For those who are not used to sailing any of the seven seas, the preparation of the Andante for the next 12 months was an adventure on its own. “Slipping” the boat sounds like a low energy activity, but couldn’t be further from the truth. Slipping, in our case, involved getting our 20 tonne boat onto a rickety timber framework running on railway iron, tieing it off with multiple ropes, then being winched slowly onto dry land. Places where things could go wrong:
a) getting the combination of wind / tide / current /speed spot on to enter the framework with only a few centimetres leeway.
b) tieing the 20 tonne boat in EXACTLY the right place so it doesn’t fall over!
c) having the ropes actually hold the boat on so it doesn’t slide ignominiously and far too fast back into the water (and having the winch mechanism work)
but nothing did. It worked beautifully, with Tony (previous owner) only yelling a few instructions to Col and Wayne. I was designated official photographer (read for that – too girly and useless to have aboard!) which gave me a great view point of all activity. And a wondrous sight it was too, the ponderous manoeuvre to land, especially as the winch cradle sported a couple of square wheels!
Now the work began. A dirty bottomed baby has nothing on a dirty bottomed boat. The accumulated barnacles, sludge and seaweed was blown off with a water compressor first. Then any flaking paint was chipped off, and edges “feathered”, then bare metal is treated with phosphoric acid. That’s just day 1! By then of the first day, Col, Terry and Tony were all covered with grot and totally exhausted. The only access to the boat (and all the tools required) was up a 6m metal ladder and clambering over the railings. Roxy got quite used to being zipped up in my windcheater for the journey up or down.
Day 2 is washing off the acid and priming the metal. As soon as the primer was dry the first coat of foul, poisonous anti-fouling paint was applied. Every inch of the 13.2m boat under the water line needs to be covered with two coats of this obnoxious but indispensable stuff. The bright red or white top coats were applied to the parts above the water line. A shower and bed at 7.30 after this effort.
Day 3 saw the zinc anodes which act as sacrificial lambs to the on-going process of electrolysis of metal in seawater, removed and replaced; and a touch up of any paint jobs. Then back in the water… which was uneventful, much to everyone’s relief.
All the blokes at the slipyard were great. Very ocker, with various shaped and sized bodies crammed into dirty, oily hi-viz shirts,stubbies and blundstone boots – but incredibly helpful. The resident cream coloured dingo had Roxy in total awe, a case of star-struck poodle.
The dingo has its own story. A young bloke who is working on restoring a boat in the yard rescued it as a very young pup, and they’ve been a partnership for years, but the dingo has always wandered the surrounding district reducing the numbers of rabbits and the odd stray cat. It was picked up and impounded by the local animal ranger because it wears no collar or registration tags. The owner was unable to pay the fine to release it and contacted the national parks people. The upshot was that the council animal ranger was severely admonished for restraining an endangered species! The dingo now has the official right to wander wherever it bloody well pleases!