Barry's Blog #141 - Splash day for A B Sea

It was July the 3rd, the clock was ticking.

We'd paid 113 Euros (AU$185) for the Greek cruising tax for the month of July. It was now a case of use it or lose it and we didn't want to lose it.

The race to the finish line was on and we had a proposed splash day of Tuesday 7th July.

Small but important

On a boat even the smallest tasks are important and before we could splash we had many small jobs to complete.

Our first jobs was to get the 50 metres (164ft) of rope rode and 50 metres of anchor chain back into the locker at the bow and get our Mantus anchor secured at the bow roller. That didn't take too long and was, thankfully, hassle free.

Next we moved on to the dinghy. In January we'd given it a thorough clean because it was filthy after tootling around various places in the med for 2 years. When we'd finished cleaning the dinghy looked fabulous, then we made a rookie mistake of leaving it on the ground underneath A B Sea without a cover.

As time in the boat yard passed, a lot of other vessels came in for their pre-spring/summer maintenance and that usually included a lot of sanding. Our dinghy slowly but surely received many fine layers of sanded antifoul and varnish. This second clean didn't take too long and our dinghy was soon shiny again.

Like watching paint dry

The next task on our list was to paint a fourth layer of antifoul along the waterline, where the majority of marine growth occurs, and also paint the leading edges of the hull, keel and rudder.

The longest part of that job was sticking the masking tape in a straight line (more or less) along the boot stripe.

With the freshly applied paint drying and darkness falling it was time to check whether our external lights all worked as they should. We weren't planning on doing any night sailing, but sometimes plans change and it would be better to check in advance that we didn't have any problems.

The lights check went okay with the known exception of the non-functioning steaming light. That's a job that's scheduled for when we get to Kaş in Turkey.

We'd asked Xaris if we could be put onto the launch trailer 2 days before we splashed so that we would have enough time to apply at least three coats of antifoul paint to the hull and keel areas where the hard stand props had been supporting A B Sea.

Sunday 5th July the guys at the boat yard got everything ready and the launch trailer was expertly pushed into place underneath A B Sea by Evangelis. He always manages to get the trailer manoeuvred into the tightest of spaces without breaking a sweat. A round of applause to that man.

Transferring A B Sea from the hard stands to the trailer went without a hitch and we quickly applied the first layers of antifoul to the newly exposed sections of hull and keel. Now it was simply a question of watching paint dry before we could get the next layers applied.

Splash Day

Late Monday afternoon the trailer loaded with A B Sea was repositioned in the yard so that she was sitting right next to the closed gate and launching would simply be a short push backwards by the big yellow earth mover.

Tuesday 7th July we were up before the sun as Xaris was determined that we'd be back in the water by 6.00am.

We prepped the boat and when Xaris arrived at 6.00am he expressed concern about the wind, which usually at that time of day is not even out of bed. He said we'd need to wait and see if it would calm down as the morning progressed. It didn't.

While we were waiting to see what the wind would do Aannsha and I decided to attach the outboard to the transom of the dinghy and connect the fuel tank. That's when we discovered that over the time the outboard had spent sitting in the boat yard the gasket of the carburettor had failed and it was now leaking fuel. Bugger.

It was too early in the morning to call anyone and at 8.00am Xaris and I loaded the outboard into the boat yard van and drove to the outboard repair shop in Limni village.

The mechanic confirmed that indeed the gasket had failed and that the whole job would take 3 hours. Great I thought, that's certainly not a disaster. The mechanic then continued with his explanation that in order to disassemble the carburettor he'd need to remove the exhaust system and that meant the replacement of another gasket. In total there were 5 or 6 gaskets that needed replacing as part of the service kit. Okay, I was quite happy to pay for the full kit. Then the mechanic said that the only place he could get the kit was from Athens and that it would take 3 days for a courier to deliver the parts.

At the mention of the word courier my heart sank. We had no choice and I asked the mechanic to go ahead with what needed to be done. We'd wait for the wind to drop, launch as planned and spend three days tied up in the very small harbour at Limni until the outboard was repaired.

Back at the boat yard Xaris announced that he was not happy that we could launch safely and postponed our splash for the following day.

After an early start, the extra stress about the outboard and a general fatigue after our 8.5 months of getting it all together, a tiredness came over me. It was midday, too hot to sleep inside the boat, too windy to put the sun shade out, so I found the only shady spot in the cockpit and lay down to sleep.

Splashus interruptus

Wednesday morning Xaris was happy with the wind and our launch began. Evangelis pushed A B Sea gently down to the shoreline. I was like a cat on a hot tin roof with nervous anticipation about whether everything that we'd worked on below the waterline would be water tight and a dozen other little things that might go wrong.

The long thin launch arm was attached to the trailer and we were pushed out into the water. Once most of the hull was wet Xaris instructed me to go below and check all of the through hulls and most importantly the stern gland.

The through hulls were bone dry, the stern gland however had a steady drip of seawater. Slow enough that it wouldn't sink the boat but fast enough to be a concern. Splash aborted and we were pulled back into the yard and positioned by the gate once more.

I came up with a plan to fix the leak in place by placing another layer of rubber between the collar and the stern gland. It took about an hour and once again with my stomach in knots with worry, we were pushed back into the water. I went below and there was no leak from the stern gland. I let out a huge sigh of relief.

Next I had to 'burp' the stern gland to release the air pocket and allow seawater to fill the void for lubrication and cooling purposes. That was much easier than I'd anticipated as I heard the air hiss out followed by a small squirt of water.

Back on deck I gave Xaris the thumbs up and he instructed me to start the main engine. I turned the key, she burst into life and I checked over the side to make sure water was coming out of the exhaust. It wasn't. Bugger.

Had the newly installed impeller failed? Was the pulley belt not driving the water pump?

I went below to check and instantly saw my rookie mistake. I'd been so obsessed thinking about the stern gland that I'd forgotten to open the raw water intake thru hull that sucks saltwater into the heat exchanger to cool the engine.

Luckily the engine hadn't been running long enough to get too hot and cause damage, but that was a lesson quickly learned.

Bye bye Livaditis boat yard

With all systems functioning normally we were pushed further out into deeper water until most of A B Sea was once again supported by the embrace of the Mediterranean Sea.

Xaris instructed Aannsha to release the line at the bow which was the final connection to the trailer and then instructed me to put the engine in reverse to gently pull the bow away from the trailer.

Then that was it, we glided backwards until we were completely clear of the trailer and had enough depth under the keel to manoeuvre safely. After 8.5 months on the hard we'd cut our umbilical cord and once again we were embracing a life of self sufficiency.

To watch the video that accompanies this blog click here.

Link to Barry's next blog

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