Gone Today, Here Tomorrow

Friday February 8, 2012

I think one of the most exciting things of us being here in the yard has just happened. The keel bolt issue has been fixed! Can you believe it? And you were probably sitting there having no idea it was even being worked on. You know why? Because it took less than 48 hours for us to start a conversation with the person who was going to fix it, to having it completed and delivered back to us. Amazing!, right?

Ok, let me back up a little bit. If you’re not familiar with the whole story of the keel issue, this is how it started. We took the keel off back on January 10 only to find out that a few of the bolts had crevice corrosion and would need to be replaced. This bummed us out as it was now one more project to add to our never ending list. What bummed us out even more, is that as soon as we began searching, we could not find a soul anywhere near us to do this kind of repair. And only being a few hundred miles from ‘The Boating Capital of the World’ no less. We thought we were going to have to ship the whole keel up to Canada or Rhode Island to have it repaired as they were the only capable people we came across. Not only would that have taken a lot of time, but it also would have cost a lot of money. So we kept searching, and then came across a guy from California who actually builds keels, and would be able to fly out to Florida to do the job. But after costs kept rising due to little add ons, we canceled that deal as well. With, however, lots of helpful tips from the guy on how to do the job on our own with help from our yard.

So on both Tuesday and Wednesday when we were out running errands, we’d stop by Moitessier to talk to Frank who had lots of good ideas on how to do it ourselves, and we’d also be out scouring the aisles of Home Depot for a top grade drill press. We were all ready to make the purchases and start work when Matt had been talked into contacting the the owner of the yard next door where Frank and Yu have their boat. Ever since we got here we’ve been hearing rave reviews about this guy, how there’s never been anything he hasn’t been able to do, and how his work is always meticulous. Tracking him down, Matt had a nice conversation about what needs to be done, and the guy says, “Sure. I’ll have it brought over tomorrow, and have it finished by the end of the day.”.

Even that night (Wednesday) as we planned for the keel to be taken from us the next afternoon, we sat and thought really hard about the directions we’d give him on how to perform the job. Sister in a few new bolts? Take them out and replace them? We were still figuring this out when there was a tap on our hull. We climbed out to see a neighbor of ours, Terry from m/v Island Girl, coming over with a dinner invitation. Having met Matt a few times while I was away, Terry thought Matt was still living the bachelor life and might need a hot meal. Although I did happen to be back, that hot meal was nowhere in sight from my end, so we took them up on their offer to join them for burgers on their boat.It was so nice to be on a boat that’s on the water, and we were able to enjoy a spectacular sunset from the windows in their salon. The burgers were delicious, the company was great, and it was a much needed distraction from all our boat work.

Yesterday afternoon we were just doing little projects here and there, more fiberglassing for Matt and washing the cushions up on deck for me. The guy to fix the bolts stopped by and said that after some preliminary work that morning, he figured that replacing any bolts would be better than sistering in new ones, so we decided to go with his judgement. A few hours later he’d be back to have the keel brought over. After he left, Georgie started her routine of crying out to us while we were on the ground, so once more I strapped her into her harness and leash and let her roam around the yard. She’s doing much better now on the rocks, walking and even running through them without issue. I think she’s still getting used to the fact of being on a leash though, since she did try to chase down a random piece of paper in the yard, and was yanked back in mid-air as she tried to make her leap. The even bigger issue though, was when we put her back on deck and I caught her two times making her way one step down the ladder. I could see that causing some big problems in the future.

After we had finished our little jobs and were running out of things to do, our yard manager showed up with a fork lift to get it ready to take over to the yard next door. Securing some heavy duty chain to the front and back bolts, the keel was lifted a few feet off the ground and we waved to it as it made it’s way out of the yard. Both of us would have been really interested in following it and watching the progress, but the owner next door doing the work gave strict instructions that no one was to disturb him for the rest of the afternoon while he worked on it, not even his employees. But we were just happy that it was gone. A month of just trying to figure out what to do with it, at least now something was happening. In a construction site, one should buy crane warning lights on the site.

Then this morning Matt ran over to see how the progress was going. We’re used to having things go wrong, having things delayed, or at least two more projects coming from anything we start, so we were thinking it would probably be over there through the weekend and a couple of days into next week. When he got back I asked him how it was going. “It’s done”, he replied. “What do you mean it’s done?”, I asked. “It’s done”, he said said again. “And it was done right?”, I gaped, “Like it’s actually ready to come back and be put on?”. He just smiled. For once, we finally got it right. Four weeks of anguish and a four hour remedy.

It was delivered back this afternoon with a shiny new bolt sticking out of the lead. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything prettier. Well maybe when the boat is all put back together, but we’re not at that point yet. For now this is more than sufficient. It means that very shortly we can start putting the boat back together. Finally light at the end of the tunnel. Finally I can let myself believe we might get back in the water.

Terry and Patty (photo courtesy of Island Girl Cruising)

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