Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Woolwich Dockyard – Work complete and we head home

We arrived late on Saturday afternoon to find Lucey Blue snuggly in the old dry dock marina. After chatting to Gary about the last few jobs we set about “finding food” and getting ready to go the next day.

We topped up the water tanks after dinner and were amused when a large halogen street light – more like a sports field light – came to life to illuminate Lucey Blue….

The kids came out with some unique perspectives on our preparations to depart and "the light"….

The next morning Jess and Pete arrived for the trip to Middle Harbour. It was a beautiful day and after some piano and “pretend” fishing we slid out of the dock and waved goodbye to Nikki and Buddha.

The trip up the harbour was fun and we made good time so we decided to have lunch at Store Beach. There were a few black clouds to the west, but the bay was empty and everyone was keen to eat.

We anchored just off the beach – well right up against the “Little Penguin” protection zone. I still find it amazing that Sydney has a few penguin breeding colonies within a stones throw of the city. The penguins are very timid and nothing like we have experienced in Antarctica, but that’s a story for another day.

Anyway shortly after we had finished lunch the “black clouds” otherwise know as a storm front hit……it went from about 20 degrees celsius and 5 knots of wind to about 12 degrees Celsius and 40 knots in a matter of minutes. Lucey Blue held fast for a while, but before long we started to drag our anchor and given our location close to the beach we decided to “up and go”.

We were disappointed not to have our new Rocna anchor with us (or at least Nick’s real wet weather gear) as it would have been much nicer to sit out the storm front. But Pete and Nick seemed to enjoy the icy blasts on the “outside” while we enjoyed playing in the saloon.

Despite the excitement we all made it home on time even if some of us were a little wet…..

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Noakes – Rigging replaced and back in the water

During the second week Noakes removed and replaced all the standing stainless steel rigging on Lucey Blue. The job was undertaken with the mast in-situ so it was one stay at a time and a guy at each end – one at deck level and the other up the mast.

We missed the show, but they kept the old rigging for us to inspect…

The original rigging was “apparently” new in 2005 and looked in reasonable condition except for one lower stay which had three broken stainless steel strands.

We could not confirm the age of the rigging so given the size of the mast and the fact we only have one forestay we decided to replace the lot and start afresh – thus giving us at least 5-10 years of trouble free service.

Shortly after the rigging was replaced Noakes lowered Lucey Blue back into Sydney Harbour to await our return…..

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Noakes – Awlgrip spit and polish with a spot of antifouling

As we entered the second week on the hard it was time to tackle the antifouling and chance our arm cleaning the Alwgrip topsides with Awlwash followed by Awlcare. The antifouling task was taken care of by Noakes under their winter special deal, which was great as it left us free to do other things…

The biggest “other thing” in terms of physical labour was the spit and polish job on Lucey Blue’s 168 feet of Alwgrip topsides – its great owning a 42 foot catamaran at moments like these!!!!

The paint job itself is in pretty good shape - Hinkley Yacht Services painted Lucey Blue using a 50 50 mix of Flag Blue and Aristo Blue in 2005. But since the boat was out of the water we thought we would see if we could improve the surface and extend its life.

The first step was to wash the boat using Awlwash and then remove any built up salt using vinegar. The wash itself was pretty quick, but there was some pretty amazing salt deposits under the bridge deck which extended the job well into the night…..

With the boat clean and all traces of salt removed it was time to apply the Awlcare - a protective polymer sealer formulated to protect and remove mild stains from Awlgrip. The sealer is simple to apply and after the normal “wax on wax off” routine the results were pretty impressive (the Karate Kid has nothing on us)!

Water now beads off the topsides and with a bit of luck the Awlcare sealer will last until our next haul out. If you are ever considering a similar job the "Maintaining an Awlgrip, Awlcraft 2000 or Awlgrip HS Topcoat" page is worth a read......

Friday, September 10, 2010

Buddha - Fun at Woolwich Dockyard and Clarkes Point Reserve Sydney

While Nick worked on the boat Emily Ryan and I had fun meeting the locals and exploring the beautiful parks around the Woolwich Dock area. One of our favorite pastimes – well the kids' absolute favorite – was playing with Buddha the local shipyard dog.

Emily and Ryan loved watching the boats come and go in the yard, but ultimately they loved watching Buddha chase the ball even more.

We played with Buddha at the yard and in the local parks and if the kids had their way we would still be there today……..

One of our favorite spots with Buddha was Clarkes Point Reserve. The park is a fantastic place to have a picnic with spectacular views of the city and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It’s even better when you have an energetic young pup and two kids fired up to play.

Emily and Ryan had a blast and after finally losing all the balls and finishing our supplies of French bread and cheese it was time to head home for dinner and a well earned rest.

Gary (Noakes Senior Shipwright) and Nikki (Buddha’s lovely owner) really made us feel at home at Woolwich. What an amazing place to spend a few weeks tinkering on the boat and playing with the kids. Thanks guys…..

Lagoon 42 TPI construction - Replacing through hull fittings

After the sail drives it was time to “move forward” and overhaul the old skin fittings in the starboard bow locker. The story goes that the first owner of Lucey Blue was a Cuban who put the boat into charter for a few years to help pay for his new toy. We don’t know how the owner managed to get around the US embargo against Cuba, but that is another story. The bottom line is that in order to maximise the number of bunks available for customers the owner installed a bed in the port bow locker and a toilet in the starboard locker for the skipper. The bulk of this strange setup has long since been removed leaving a couple of old fittings that were starting to look a bit suspect.

The idea was to replace the ball valves and then later install a large holding tank and salt water deck wash system. Like most jobs it turned out to be a bit more complex than originally planned and before long it was apparent that the through hull skin fittings would also need to be replaced. Removing the fittings was easy enough and it was a simple matter of another trip to the ship chandlery to find replacements. But that pesky owner had cut some corners and the end grain balsa core had not been sealed after the holes had been bored through the hull. The net result of the “Cuban shortcut” was a wet patch of balsa core around one of the skin fittings - approximately 15 cm in diameter - that had to be dried out over a few days before I could seal the exposed areas with epoxy bog. We ended up checking all the skin fittings on Lucey Blue just to be safe – no other problems identified.

Despite the extra time the repair was easy and the hull cross-section confirmed the robust construction of Lucey Blue. All Lagoon 42s were built in Rhode Island by Tillotson Pearson Inc. (TPI) using their state of the art infusion process and vinyl ester resins.

The hull thickness near the bow on Lucey Blue is about 2.5cm - with an outer fiberglass laminate of about 4mm and an inner fiberglass laminate of 5mm. I guess in the old days the cost of resin was a bit cheaper and TPI were keen to ensure a high quality build to support Lagoon’s entry into the US market, but talk about overkill….

We are still considering the best toilet and sullage tank system. But with our shiny new skin fittings it should be a simple plug and play solution.

Another interesting task complete - hopefully we won’t find any more surprises onboard!!!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Volvo Penta 130S saildrive overhaul – Lower oil seals and boot covers

The next job onboard Lucey Blue was to service the Volvo Penta 130S sail drives. With the boat out of the water we took the opportunity to replace the lower oil seals, check the drive assembly and inspect the propellers. We also replaced all the saildrive “boot covers” - half of the port boot cover had “gone missing” a while back and it was unclear how long the other would last.

Dismantling the lower element of the sail drive leg was straight forward – remove the propeller, anode and unscrew two bolts.

After checking the drive mechanism for wear and tear we replaced the lower oil seals, o-rings and put everything back together – carefully ensuring the cup side of the seals were back to back to stop water ingress and/or oil leaks. The only real trick is to ensure you don’t loose the two internal washers and sleeve….

All was looking good, but we then found that the fixed three bladed propellers had a little movement on the shaft so we sent them away to be rebushed by a guy in Wollongong. I debated replacing the propellers with either folding or feathering units to improve our sailing performance, but after much discussion and number crunching we decided to stick with what we have for now.

While we opted for a “no change solution” we found some fantastic low drag propellers on the market – including a number made in Australia. The all stainless steel Austral slipstream folding and autostream feathering propellers have a good reputation, are well made and are backed by excellent customer support. But we really liked the Gori folding propellers with their unique overdrive feature, which improves fuel efficiency when motor sailing. We also had a look at Hydralign propellers made in Sydney and the composite Kiwi propellers made in New Zealand.

Replacing the "boot covers" was actually more fiddly than the rest of the saildrive overhaul. After we had removed the old “chop strand" fiberglass covers we laminated up a sheet of fiberglass using “woven matt” to a thickness of about 2-3mm. We then used an old cover as a template and cut out four new covers, which we latter stuck to the hull with sikaflex and a few small counter sunk screws. The new boot covers are much stronger than the old ones and should stay attached to Lucey Blue for years to come....

With our Vovlo Penta 130S saildrives back in one piece we bolted on the new zinc anodes, three bladed fixed propellers and filled the system up with synthetic gear oil. Another job ticked off the list, but plenty more still to come......

The Deckhouse - Woolwich, Sydney

While we were at the Woolwich Dockyard in Sydney for repairs and anti-fouling we discovered that they had recently opened a beautiful new cafe/function centre right on the waterfront nearby. It is called the Deckhouse, and is open for breakfast and lunch (and functions).

The views from the restaurant up the harbour to the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the city skyline are spectacular:

There are lots of beautiful, exposed wood beams in the cafe, which apparently were salvaged from the original Woolwich Dock area.

We had a delicious breakfast one day, and enjoyed it so much we invited some family members back the next weekend, and had a scrumptious lunch (I really loved my Salt and Pepper squid).

Our waitress at lunch was lovely and the kids were smitten. She even gave them some of their special 'opening ceremony' truffles in a box as we left (the restaurant had only officially opened earlier in the week we were there) we felt very special indeed!

We tried to go back for breakfast the day we left (a Sunday morning), but we hadn't booked...and they were we missed out. Moral to the story...make a booking on busy weekends!

The Woolwich/Hunters Hill area has a couple of nice places to eat, and one rainy night we visited nearby Jaspers. It was a beautiful little restaurant, that looked all dark, cosy and romantic through the windows. As we approached with two small children in tow we thought they'd send us packing pronto, but we couldn't have been more wrong! They showed us to a lovely comfortable table...which was a little apart from the other diners, as I had asked to sit in an unobtrusive spot!

Our waitress here was also lovely, she even took the kids in to the kitchen and introduced them to the staff (because the kids could just see the kitchen from their seats...and had declared it looked JUST LIKE MASTERCHEF!!). It was a delicious meal, and a very special night out.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Noakes shipwrights - Carbon fibre rudder shaft and Edson quadrant repair

Our first task at Woolwich was removing the starboard rudder and carbon fibre rudder shaft. The job did not take long and after removing the broken Edson quadrant and upper stainless steel holding pin the whole thing just fell out. Well we had to lift the boat a bit to allow the assemble to slide out gently, but it was an easy job….

Lagoon continues to impress in terms of quality. The rudder, shaft, bearings and overall steering system are all massively over engineered according to Noakes – the lower bearing alone is over 30 cm long and made of solid carbon fibre. The fact that you can still order replacement steering components for an 18 year old catamaran also speaks volumes for US build production boats – at least those that were kitted out with quality equipment.

With the rudder out and available for detailed inspection we spend a while ensuring there were no hidden problems. After carefully consideration Noakes decided the best solution was to grind away the damaged area and laminate the shaft to a slightly larger diameter using vacuum bagged carbon fibre and epoxy. The repair took a few days, but the end result is stronger than the original shaft.

While Noakes worked on the rudder shaft I installed a new plywood panel for the “steering stopper” – the original panel was a bit too small and the forward bolt holding the “stopper “ in place had worn its way through the timber over time.

The repaired rudder and new Edson quadrant were not installed until just before the boat went back in the water about two weeks later. I missed that event, but by all accounts the task was straight forward up until they had to realign the steering system. Senior shipwright Gary Ferres said they had three guys working under torchlight tweaking and tuning the steering system to ensure the rudders were parallel and had full turn left and right. At one point they were out by 45 degrees because the cable steering had come off the Edson idler. But in the end – under failing torchlight – they prevailed and bolted the rudder assembly back in place.

I am glad to have the job done and really happy it all went so smoothly.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

PDQ 32 Catamaran

On our way down to Woolwich for our annual haul out we spotted a PDQ 32 catamaran in Middle Harbour, Sydney.

The boat is a long way from its Canadian birthplace and looks well set up for cruising. This rare sighting in Australian waters made us think of Mike and Rebecca on Zero to Cruising currently exploring the Hudson River in North America.

Coincidently PDQ was bought by Pearson Composites in 2008 – formally part of Tillotson Pearson Inc. (TPI) and builders of Lucey Blue.... so now our boats are kind of related ;-)