One day short of eight months, Learnativity returned to the sea where we belong as we “splashed” back into the waters here in Vuda Point Marina on Thursday May 3rd. I’m a long ways from being done but this kind of job only happens about every 20 years or so and it has been a fabulous experience and yet another adventure for me. I’ve learned more every day not only about my boat but about this Fijian culture and people I love so dearly as I have worked shoulder to shoulder with so many of them over the past eight months, been invited to join them for lunch and to their homes. How blessed am I?!
As you can imagine “splashing” back into the water is a major milestone in this 20 year refit and renovation and one I’ve been waiting and working for a long time. It was all very much worth the time, money and effort mind you as she truly does look like an entirely new boat sporting her new dark blue hull colour and bright white everywhere else.
I’ll try to put up an album with more before and after shots for you to see just how big a difference there is and how much work has gone into this but I will post a few of them here in this post for now.
It was a VERY busy last two weeks doing everything that needed to be done to get her ready to be back in the water again such as cleaning the AutoProp, installing new transducers and zinc anodes. My great crew from Baobab were busy finishing the bottom paint and they rolled on the last of the three coats of anti foul paint on Wednesday, the day before we splashed so it is as fresh as possible and doesn’t dry out. And then once LTY was in the slings and off the stands they were able to finish painting the last few spots they had been covering and she was all set for her much awaited journey back to the sea.
I spent over five days rebuilding the Maxwell windlass (electric winch that pulls in the chain and anchor) with all new seals and motor and then getting it all mounted in its newly replaced steel home in the bow.
I also put in all new wiring and new foot switches and she works like a charm. I am very dependent upon this bit of kit as I have a 75kg Rocna anchor and lots of 10mm chain to haul up each time I weigh anchor so I have now completely redone this vital piece of equipment. As you can see here, it is like a whole new boat inside as well as out.
I also spent several days redoing my anchor chain, replacing some of the well worn parts with some of the spare anchor chain I’ve been carrying aboard for over 5 years and adding an additional 100 feet to give me a total of over 400 feet/120m. This gives me more options and safety for anchoring in deeper water. I painted a few feet of the chain at 50 foot intervals and marked these with colour coded plastic chain markers and zip ties to make it easy to know how much chain I have out when anchoring. As you can maybe start to understand, each of these “little jobs” of putting everything back together takes a long time and I am sure I have at least a full month of work before Learnativity is ready to sail again and even then there will be lots of jobs on the list of things to do while anchoring in the upcoming remote spots as I head out again.
I don’t have the new starter batteries for my main engine and generator yet so I had Mo, the marina yard jack of all trades, tow me over to our new home in the basin of Vuda Point Marina. We are all the way around the circular basin in a great little spot that looks out west to the outlying islands. My friends and fellow cruisers Terry and Christine from Teka Nova were very kind and came aboard as the Travel Lift lowered Learnativity into the water and helped out with lines and fenders, and Steve from Westward II and some of the Baobab crew helped out ashore as we slowly nested her into the new dock.
One of the first things I did after securing all the lines was to give Learnativity a good wash down. It is going to be SO nice to not be tracking dirt aboard from the yard! With the new nonskid paint holding not only your feet but all the dirt, the decks had become quite a mess from all those trips up and down the ladder as the work continued onboard in the yard. We have not had any rain now for almost a month as the cyclone and rainy season has ended for this year and we are back to the fabulous weather I so love, but as a result there is a lot of dust and dirt in the yard that was getting tracked onto the decks. Fortunately there is lots of fresh water supply here after all the rains and I have a hose bib right on the small wooden dock by the bow and it felt so good to have all that fresh water on my feet and watch all that dirt go streaming off the decks to reveal my like new brilliant white decks! I felt a bit like the Kevin Costner character in the movie Waterworld as I rid myself of all that land based dirt and got back to life on the water.
In an odd inversion of the situation though, now that LTY is back in the water I’ve moved to a beautiful new breakfast spot that is ashore. As you may recall from many previous posts, even though I was out of the water and “on the hard” in the yard, I had this great little “tree fort” on the aft deck because I had the Travel Lift put Learnativity stern first into the beautiful big trees surrounding the work yard of the marina. We faced East and so Ruby and I sat out there each morning and enjoyed watching the rising sun surrounded by flowering tree branches, birds and bees. Now that Learnativity is back in the water, you can see in the photo here that we have another fabulous new spot to enjoy each sunrise and have our breakfast out on the grassy area in front of Learnativity under the palm trees. This is facing SE so we get a whole new view out the channel and across to the many Mamanuka islands as they pop into view with the rising sun each morning. Ruby gives this spot a four paws rating as she gets to frolic in the grass each morning doing her running wild in circles routine and greeting everyone as the yard slowly comes alive with other cruisers and workers. And so as strange as it may seem, though all quite fitting for me, when I was on the hard I had breakfast onboard and now that I’m back in the water I’m having it ashore! It is a pretty great life for both of us and I take a few minutes each morning as I sit in this idyllic spot to remind myself just how fortunate and charmed a life I lead.
Once breakfast is done and we are sure the sun is rising well it is back to Learnativity to work towards the next milestone which is getting her seaworthy and setting off on our first voyage with all these new changes and paint job. Having literally removed every single thing that wasn’t welded on it is truly one of the world’s larges jig saw puzzles so I am now hard at work putting her all back together again!
The past few days I’ve been working mostly on reinstalling all the hatches in the deck. As part of the renovation I added three large new hatches, two which are over 2 feet square in the ceiling of the salon and one that is above the galley table. As you can imagine from this shot the addition of all these new new hatches have opened up the boat tremendously with so much more light and fresh air. Last night I already enjoyed the fresh breeze flowing through the boat with this added new air flow.
I actually bought these new hatches long before I left San Francisco over four years ago so I’ve been looking forward to getting them installed every since and their time finally arrived! I graduated with an honours degree from the "No project left unstarted” university but I DO get them all done eventually! And of course everything is being closely supervised by Commodore Ruby!
Each hatch takes me over four hours to install as I am also taking the opportunity to redo all the ceiling and trim on the inside of the hatch openings and the hatches have to be all rebedded using 3M 5200 sealant /adhesive to make them completely waterproof and able to withstand another 20 years of surging seawater when we are underway in heavy seas. The 5200 is wonderful stuff in terms of how well it sticks, seals and glues everything together but it is also called “devil’s glue” for a very good reason as it sticks to EVERYTHING and is soon coating your hands, tools and anything within a few feet of where you are applying it. All worth the effort but it takes me almost an hour to carefully mold the 5200 around each hatch frame and then clean up the surrounding deck area, tools and myself before it sets up. There are eight hatches in total now and I’ve got five of them installed and should be able to finish the last three today (Monday here), depending on what else comes up during the day to distract my ADD riddled little brain.
Once the hatches are all done I’ll start on the other big job which his putting in the new glass in the salon windows. These are the last remaining areas that are still covered in black plastic and masking tape and removing that will be a wonderful treat as I finally get light back into the salon and inside the boat and have my views back again.
So I still have a LOT of work to do but as you can see from these two before and after pictures it has come a LONG way already and I’ll keep you posted as the progresses continues. Thanks again for joining me on this latest grand adventure in life, love and learning.