In and Out in a Day

In and Out in a Day

We had a busy day today doing all the stuff that they omit from the brochures and magazine ads for sailboats.  Altera has been in the water since last August and the only inspection of the underwater part of the hull we’ve been able to do is by snorkelling.  So today we had Altera hauled in Souris, PEI to keep up with our maintenance.

They have a new and bigger lift arriving here in 3 weeks and this one is off to be refurbished and sold to a new buyer, but this 30 year old lift did the job.  I never would have guessed its age from the condition.  Regardless, I’m always nervous watching the boat being lifted as it sways gently as the lift is moved and was relieved when she was touched down on the block of wood.

Considering the last time we scrubbed the bottom was in the Bahamas, the hull is actually pretty clean.  Mostly slime although there were a number of barnacles too.  I pressure washed the hull and was probably wearing a good portion of the slime by the time I was done.  After that Chrissy went to work with a scraper to remove the barnacles that the pressure washer couldn’t.  We are wearing through the paint in places, but we are putting off repainting for now as we can get a better paint for tropical waters when we are in the US.  Not to mention that if we can keep this stuff wearing away we wont end up with thick flaking layers of bottom paint in the future.

The foreman watched diligently and if one of us walked away, he sternly told us to get back to it.


The aluminum safe antifouling paint is not as effective as the copper based stuff on the hull as you can see from how the saildrive looked before we got to cleaning.  The good news is the primer and barrier coat that I refinished the drive leg with last summer is still intact.  Although we had worn though the antifouling in places (the grey spots).  The rubber boot that hides the hole in the hull doesn’t do so well at preventing growth.  Quite the colony of barnacles.


I learned over the winter that one of the better ways to prevent growth on the propellor is to polish it.  This had never been an issue in the past as the summer isn’t long enough in Georgian Bay for any appreciable growth.  So, for the first time since we bought the boat I buffed the propellor.  You can see how many barnacles had been attached to the prop blades.  I had scraped those prior to leaving Arichat during a rather chilly snorkel in 53F water as they were dropping our speed under power from 6 knots to 3.5.  Maybe the now smooth blades will generate a tiny bit more speed.



Here is the shiny propellor and the brand new zinc anode.   Chrissy put two coats of fresh antifouling on the drive leg after I had cleaned it up, and I changed the oil too.


The hull stripes just above the waterline are almost impossible to clean properly in the water so I spent a couple hours getting rid of the crud and applying a fresh coat of wax.  I still need to wax from the stripes up to the rail, but that is easily done in the water as the waves in an anchorage don’t lap up that high.


So, 5 hours later Altera was headed back in.  No issues other than the planned maintenance were found which is always a relief.


As for the zinc anode, here is the one we pulled off next to one of my spares.  The outer ring is all gone, but the thickness across the rest is almost like new.  If I buffed the scale off I think I could probably still read the part numbers.  The recommended replacement interval is when 50% has been consumed, so we actually are close to that.  I would guess based on the weight that about 60% was consumed, so were just a bit overdue.


We always kept a close eye on this, because if you don’t notice that it is gone, the aluminum drive leg will be eaten away in the same manner.  On a lot of forums people indicate that they would get 4-6 months from a zinc.  We went 11.  The reason we were able to so long is we also use this ‘guppy’ zinc that I have attached via a wire to the transmission case (which is directly connected to the saildrive).  Once we started using it in the Virgin Islands the main anode deterioration really did slow.  Also, we were seldom in marinas which can be another problem from stray currents in the water which will eat the zinc faster.

While we admit that this ‘guppy’ is a pain in the butt to stow when you go sailing, we are weary of hiring a diver to change the main one (cheaper alternative than a lift-out) as there are so many finicky parts to disassemble the propellor that if even one was dropped, we could be stranded for weeks.   Not to mention the reassembly torques that if messed up could result in the prop falling off.  So we think it does save us money and is worth the headache.  Newer Volvo saildrives have a better designed 2 piece anode that doesn’t require the removal of the prop to change which could easily be done by a diver.  Too bad they haven’t come out with a retrofit kit for ours.


This article has 4 comments

  1. I diligently read all the maintenance procedures carried out, the foreman obviously did an excellent job supervising you. Well done.?
    Where will the next stop be for you ?

  2. Nice updates, Jeff!

    When are we getting a bit of an overview of how your experience is going vs. the expectations you had? And, not to be nosy, how are the expenses vs. budget? You’re still buying ice cream, so the kitty is not empty yet!


    • I’ve been contemplating a few posts on what we’ve found it is like to live aboard, and to answer some of the commonly asked questions we’ve had, even possibly on the cruising kitty which is one question a few will bluntly ask while others you can clearly see they are wondering but too shy to ask.