[QT's Boats]


The Haul-Out

"Your Mission, should you choose to accept it, is to haul Tartan out of the water... Brave the stench of dying mussels, face endless hours of scraping, sanding and painting while alienating as MANY friends as possible... Try to keep the total expenses below $1,000.00, and - when it's all done - have the boat look JUST as crappy as it did BEFORE the haul-out!"

Spoken like a true masochist!

Let me tell you about the GLAMORS of owning a boat! You see, Tartan was a bit of a bargain... A sadly neglected boat who had fallen into a state of disrepair. But the thing about Bargain Boats is - they always cost ya!!!

Tartan had some problems. Thankfully, I do have friends of the mechanical persuasion who were able to help with diagnosis. Most of my issues seemed to be related to a little overheating problem I had. The overheating came from the fact that the raw-water cooling system appeared to be compromised - as evidenced by the teensy trickle of water coming out of the exhaust, even at open throttle (and the steadily rising exhaust temperature, even at idle). Basically, whenever I'd take the boat out for more than 10 minutes, the gearbox would overheat and I'd lose my reverse gear (no reverse=no brakes!). The BoatGuru, in his attempt to investigate the raw-water system, managed to break the Gate valve on the thru-hull ("GATE VALVE??? Who the hell puts a GATE VALVE on a thru-hull?!!"). And, since it was a gate valve, we had no way of knowing if it was broken in an OPEN or CLOSED position. This succinctly ended our investigation into the overheating problem...

(The BoatGuru, incidentally, has a knack for finding those things that are "about to break" and expedites the process. But that's okay, 'cause he fixes 'em too!)

Anyhow, since the thru-hull was suspect, the recommended treatment was a haul-out. I'm not sure, but I think I would have rather heard that I needed to schedule a root canal. "Haul out?! But... But... THAT's WORK!!!" I cried. "Well..." the BoatGuru sighed "It's a boat!"

I fretted and whined for weeks, fearing the worst. I listened to others' warnings about the perils of blisters on fiberglass hulls, and HOW LONG did you say it's been since the boat was hauled? "Uhhh... I dunno. I'm guessing at least 5 years." "Five years?!! OhmyGAWD!!!" And on... And on... And on...

I mustered the courage to scrape up my Life Savings and let my fingers do the walkin'... Bottom Jobs (Haul, power-wash, bottom prep and paint) were running approximately $1,000.00 at the local yards. Unfortunately, that was ALL the cash I had - and that would mean that I wouldn't have anything left over for THE BIG UNKNOWN: Whatever repairs were deemed necessary after the boat was out of the water...


Most of the time, I pride myself on being an independent womanly sort. I rarely ask for help and you'll almost NEVER hear me whine about breaking a nail! But ya know... Sometimes ya just gotta swallow your pride! All of a sudden, I was a pathetic whimpering helpless waif of a girl, relying on the chivalrous nature of her Ohhh, so MANLY neighbors! ;-)

When that didn't work, I fell back on the old Stand-by: "FREE BEER!!!"

So it was that Tartan's haul-out was scheduled. During the pre-flight check-out, we discovered all KINDS of fun stuff. Like no fluid in the hydraulic steering system on the flybridge (Gee, no wonder I couldn't get it docked without careening off of Solitaire first!). Then there was the fwd/reverse cable on the morse control that snapped - AGAIN! Naturally, it was AFTER the local chandlery closed!

I'm getting REALLY good at replacing that cable!

The Big Day

Finally the big day arrived. We set out at approximately 0600. Max and Ron in the Tuna Taxi had obligingly agreed to escort us to SF Boat Works. We caught an outgoing tide and raced to the yard at a breathtaking 5 kts!

Two hours later, we pulled up to the dock and made the necessary arrangements to have the boat hauled. Pete and the Guru jumped in the car, I boarded the Tuna Taxi and we made it home in 13 minutes - JUST as Pete and the Guru were pulling up!

I grabbed my camera, gulped two cups of coffee and headed back to the yard. Alone...


"Oh Gawd... What have I gotten myself into?!!"

This is the picture of when we first pulled Tartan out of the water. It had just been power-washed and I was getting ready to start scraping... Do you have any idea how BIG boats get when you're looking at them from the bottom??? Faced with the task of removing all of the loose bottom paint and barnacles, all of a sudden I felt like I owned the QE2!


"Well, I guess I'd better get started!"

Ever conscious of Boatyard Fashion trends, here I am donning rubber gloves, goggles and respirator and scraping... scraping... scraping... Did I happen to mention how much LARGER the boat became once out of the water?

Oh, and for what it's worth, cheapie paper respirator things are NOT very effective at filtering out toxic dust. I breathed more than my share of carcinogens that week (made my cigarettes taste funny)!

My advice: Invest in a REAL respirator!


"Wet Sanding?! Who's idea WAS this?!!"

This is me wet-sanding the bottom of the boat. This is, quite possibly, *the* most disgusting, most masochistic thing to put oneself through. It involves hosing down the boat and then dipping sandpaper in water, then sanding till it becomes a thick, goopy mess which glops down into your hair...

I have determined that wet-sanding is some sort of "Rite of Passage" for new boat owners. You're expected to endure it *once,* if you're to be respected by your fellow mariners..

Okay, I've done it already! Are you all SATISFIED?!!. Next time, I'm PAYING someone to do it!


"Blisters? What blisters?!"

This is the bow of the boat, after wet-sanding. Yes, there were blisters. Lots of itsy bitsy, teeny weenie blisters. None larger than a dime in diameter. Since this vintage 1969 hull is at least 3/8" thick and there was no evidence of delamination present... And since repair would have involved UNTOLD amounts of work, costing great gobs of money, this was declared a "cosmetic" issue and we opted to paint right over it.

I figure, the boat's taken 30 years to develop teeny blisters, it'll take at least another 10 before they even begin to pose a theat...


Up in the Engine Room...

This is the exhaust hose. As mentioned, I was having some problems with the boat overheating, which was one of the main reasons we'd hauled it out. This hose is about 4" in diameter x I don't know how many feet long. It's *supposed* to be pliable rubber, reinforced with wire.

Well, my exhaust system was pretty much baked by the time we hauled out - all brittle and crumbly. The hose, literally, shattered when we tossed it overboard...


What's a haul-out without an expensive surprise?!

This little gem is my exhaust elbow, which was also baked. That circular flange thingie off to the left (don't you love these technical terms?!) broke off while we were trying to remove the exhaust hose. The elbow is a hunk of metal, maybe 6" across. It was going to cost (Drum roll please...) $637.50 to replace... Plus the part would have had to have been shipped from England (in 8-10 working days, nevermind that I was paying, by-the-DAY, to keep the boat out of the water!).

We ended up having it welded for $50.00.

Good News and Bad News...

While I concentrated on the underbelly of the boat (Dead mussels start to smell *really* bad around Day #3, by the way...) the BoatGuru worked diligently in the engine room, trying to fix my overheating problem. "Well," he announced "I've got Good News and Bad News." (God I hate that phrase!)

"Okay" I sighed "What's the Good News?"

"I pulled your thru-hulls and they're fine."

"Ummm... Okay," I cringed "What's the Bad News?"

"I pulled your through-hulls and they're fine."

Men can be so infuriating sometimes! "So what does this mean?!"

"It means I haven't found your overheating problem yet. Can you fetch me a beer?"

I fetched the requisite beer. The Guru, thus sated, returned to his post in the engine room and proceeded to disassemble my raw water cooling system...

"Here's your trouble, Lady!"


This was the source of my overheating problem... One of the pipes to the raw-water cooling system was completedly clogged up with calcified gunk (you don't suppose it had anything to do with the fact that the boat was resting IN MUD at low tide where the last owner docked it?!). At one point, there was only one tiny hole, 1/8" in diameter to allow water to flow through... It's a wonder the engine even ran!


"He's a Genius, I tellya!"

Here is the Guru (who insists on remaining anonymous - in spite of the fact that I am willing to share in the VAST PROFITS I make from maintaining this webpage - LOL), demonstrating the "Poor Man's gasket cutter"...

Kind of a cool idea, actually. He laid the gasket material on the end of the pipe, then tapped it gently with a hammer in order to cut it to the exact size.

But then, I'm easily impressed these days!


Reassembly of the Cooling System

Here, the Guru is reassembling the (now DE-gunkified) pipes on the transmission cooler. It'll be nice to have Reverse gear again!

He spent hours in the engine room, looking for potential trouble-spots and fixing everything as inexpensively as possible.

What a Good Guy! :-D (Yes, as a matter of fact I am sucking up blatantly here!)

Meanwhile... Back under the boat...


Bottom Painting

This is me and Pete painting the bottom of the boat - Oh joy!

Notice I am wearing shorts and a tee shirt. I can now *personally* attest to the resilience (and toxicity) of marine bottom paint... I was scrubbing paint off of various parts of me for TWO MONTHS after the haul-out. Plus I had some really *nasty* rashes! I don't even want to think about the toxins I probably absorbed in that time...


The Moment of Truth

Removing the masking tape (Yeah, yeah... We shoulda painted the boot stripe!).

I have no idea why peeling off masking tape is so gratifying, but the bottom paint sure does look good! It seems almost a shame to stick it underwater after doing such a lovely job!

Some "Before" and "After" shots:


Rudder and Prop "Before"

Lots of barnacles and encrusted gunk on the prop, shaft and rudder.

There were still quite a few barnacles on the hull after the power wash as well...


Rudder and Prop "After"

We took a grinder to the prop, shaft and rudder and managed to find BRONZE underneath all the gunk.

Replaced all the zincs...

It's lookin' good!


Depth Sounder Transducer "Before"

This is the depth sounder transducer.

Pete found a *lovely* hole in it (thankfully, the hole *didn't* penetrate the hull - Eek!)

Pete offered to fix it for me.


Depth Sounder Transducer "After"

Good ole' Pete...

Solution: A big wad of epoxy putty... It hardened quicky and seemed to do the trick

Gotta love that Marine-Tex!!!


Keel Cooler "Before"

Yes, the boat has two cooling systems. Raw water system cools the gearbox and exhaust. And the closed system cools the oil and engine itself.

Power-washing has it's limitations and the keel cooler needed to be cleaned up by hand


Keel Cooler "After"

Did I happen to mention that dead mussels STINK?!! (I lost my taste for shellfish after this!)

Several hours of scraping, scrubbing, grinding (and a fresh coat of bottom paint) later...

It looks pretty darned good, if I do say so myself!! ;-)



Here is Tartan, lookin' *surprisingly* photogenic...

He is all cleaned up, painted, fixed, and just itchin' to be launched!

(I *wish* the boat looked this good up close!!)

Fishes BEWARE!!!


"Let's Do Launch"

Time for a final mad-dash to gather up all the crap strewn about the yard...

Run over to the office and write a BIG check to the boatyard...

...and Tartan's up in the Travelift...

Headin' back to the bay...

(I was sooo nervous at this point, I was nauseous!)


The REAL Moment of Truth: "Will he float?!!"

The BoatGuru couldn't be there for The Big Launch. He used some silly excuse like how he had to go to work or something (Not very comforting! Could it be that he just didn't want to be there when Tartan sank like a rock?!!). Thankfully, Pete agreed to stay and help me on launch day (there was NO WAY I was gonna go through this ALONE!)

Actually, the Guru left us quite an extensive checklist of things to review. The most important being: "Check those thru-hulls and DON'T take off 'till you know they don't leak!"

So Tartan was gently lowered into the water while Pete and I scrambled around... We opened the thru-hulls one at a time and held our breath, praying they would hold (I prayed doubly hard - since leakage would've cost me an additional $200.00 to yank it back out of the water!!!). Happily, Tartan floated!


And off we went...

Yes, as a matter of fact, that *is* a Sh**-eating grin! We cruised back to the marina at about 10-11 kts (Tartan's not fast, but he is sturdy!). Pete kept checking all of the connections, thru-hulls and temperature gauges on the way back, and gave me a big Thumb's Up.

Pete ALSO knew I was nervous as hell and wisely (???) neglected to tell me about how the exhaust hose clamp really wasn't tight enough and there was water leaking into the hull around the transom! He made an educated guess and determined that it wasn't so serious that we couldn't make it home!

We DID make it home... And when he finally told me, I couldn't decide whether to hug him or kill him! (Okay, so I hugged him!)

End Result

Tartan got hauled, painted and everything below the waterline got repaired or replaced for roughly $1,100.00 - including beer and post-haul-out party... We hauled on a Friday and launched on a Tuesday...

I aged, ohhh, roughly 10 years in those 5 days, but I now have a reliable boat that will continue to float... Till it's time to do it all again!

Special Thanks to all my buddies who stayed with me through this adventure... Pete (my first mate and moral support), Missy (photographer and wet-sander extraordinaire), Bev (who had the VERY important job of running to the bar next door to fetch us libations), Max and Ron (our escorts to the boatyard), and of course, the BoatGuru (Who won't take my boat as payment! Hmph!)

Wow! You actually made it this far??? You ARE a glutton for punishment! Okay, well, feel free to email me at IMQTPI(at)gmail(dot)com - Please mention "I have a boating sickness." in the subject line, so I'll know better than to read it! ;-)

319 Visitors 01/27/00 - 03/06/01

9677 Visitors since 03/06/01

Last Updated 03/06/01