Chores once more.
27 September 2017
Chris and Francis
GEEK ALERT: do not enter if you're not interested in boat maintenance!
It is 15th of September and it is that time of the year again where we atone for our summer pleasures aboard Clio. She came out of the water yesterday and is now held up by around 12 pieces of former trees. We've repaired and replaced 'new-for-old' many bit and pieces over the last years during the annual maintenance and this year we're seeing the benefits of that approach. There is still a lot of work to be done, 57 small(er) tasks at last count, before we will set off to the UK for a couple of weeks of cold weather, but none of them the size of a new rudder bearing or stainless steel solar panel arch.
We got in contact with Wim (and son Wim) van de Pelt (Aegina Yacht Services, working from two containers in the Kanonis boatyard), and asked for assistance for some of the jobs. Wim and his family have been in Greece since sometime in the 1980's, so he knows a lot about boat repairs and also where to get things and who to talk to. No-nonsense, get-the-job-done approach for a reasonable price. They were willing to work in with us and with our timeline. That is often not the case, boat maintenance people want to do jobs whenever it suits them (in winter) and when the customer has left. Wim and his team turned out to be excellent to work with!!
A main task this year with the underwater hull will be to correct the quite shabby work the Aktio marina staff had delivered last year. The AF (anti-fouling) paint is peeling off the then newly sandblasted and primed keel in big sheets, the proof that they did not put on AF primer as agreed and paid for. The AF is so thin that it looks like they only put on one layer.
So keel must be stripped from all AF before we can put new Seajet 011 AF primer on. Wim suggested using a Titan AF paint stripper which worked well (to our pleasant surprise) and after 24 hours the old AF could be high-pressure hosed from the keel.
Last year we also asked the Aktio boatyard to give the underwater hull a good sanding to remove about three layers that had accumulated on the horizontal hull between the keel and the rudder. We showed them the area and the job that needed to be done. When complaining about the sanding job that was actually done when we saw it in May this year, it turned out that they did a 'light sanding' job. They could not have taken more than two hours doing it, pocketing €250 for it. Light indeed! So this year we have to remove five layers.
Wim's team, especially Nikos, took on that job and spent almost two full days on it. It is really nasty job as dry-sanding the AF produces quite poisonous dust. It needs full overalls, full face breathing mask, using an electric sander in 32 degrees heat: that is not very relaxing. This may not be the most ideal approach (wet sanding with a pneumatic sander would be much better/faster and would keep the amount of dust down considerable), but that is how it was done. Nikos did an outstanding job, and kept on going until most of the AF was removed. Quite an achievement!!!! Wim is now looking at alternative methods using Mirka sanding mesh disks and pneumatic sanders, good for him!
Along the waterline is another place where AF paint tends to accumulate (we dread to sand too close to the exposed gelcoat) and using a hand-operated sanding board with Mirka sanding mesh and horizontal movements (thanks for that idea Wim) and some masking tape on the gelcoat just above the water line, solved another problem area.
After we applied epoxy shield to the bare gelcoat patches on the underwater hull and primer (when still sticky) on the keel, we put just one layer of AF on. The other one goes on when we come back next year. Apart from relatively small jobs on electrodes and propeller, that finished off the underwater part of the boat.
Over the years the wide blue line above the waterline had faded, especially in the bow regions To spruce that up a bit, we asked Wim to see if he could use a bit coarser cutting paste to get rid of the top layer and restore the colour. Again Nikos was going to do the job, starting with 1000 cutting compound and working his way through to a waxing/polishing compound, doing three rounds around the boat. It worked quite well and much of the colour has been restored.
The last job for the van der Pelt team was for Wim to do some gelcoat repairs: some hairline fractures of the gelcoat around where the shrouds go through the deck, and some minor damage the outboard propeller did on the stern. To match the pure white base gelcoat to the boats gelcoat colour, it needs to be colour-corrected. Mixing the gelcoat with one or two drops of ocher-coloured dye to get it just right is quite a skill and great to watch. The hairline fractures were milled out first and then filled in with the new gelcoat using a small paint brush. Once that has hardened out sufficiently, it is slowly levelled and polished using a series of ever finer wet sanding paper until the repaired gelcoat blends in with the old, all done in the full sun to professional standards by Wim-the-Elder. Jobs well done!
Over the years we have found consistently that boatyards are good at boat-yarding, but less so at boat maintenance and repair. We now prefer the help of more specialized people to do some of the jobs we can't (or prefer not to) do ourselves. The trick is always to find the right people, we were lucky again this year.
In the meantime, Chris was doing a great and big job cleaning Clio's inside. This year we wanted to reorganize and clean out much of the stuff we've been hording over the years in our bunk cabin come storage room. So we bit the bullet and completely cleaned it out. Four or five garbage bags full of stuff were dispatched to the nearest industrial bins and the leftovers rearranged. End-of-season cleaning of the oven/stove and fridge were also part of the program. And of course Francis' favorite job, annual maintenance of the toilets, including cleaning and replacing the manual pumping mechanisms, cleaning pipes and getting rid of the lime (chalk) scale. Lots of plastic gloves, paper towels, 20% hydrochloric acid, replacement kits and Vaseline are part of the process. Happy that has been done again for this year.
The engine was winterized and the external instruments nicely packed in plastic, anchor chain and anchor sprayed with a new layer of zinc. The anchor was painted white to make it easier to find underwater and the chain received cable ties at 10m intervals so Chris can see how much chain is being let out. Many bits and pieces of deck equipment need to be cleaned and stored. The sails, Bimini and sprayhood sent off to the sailmaker for cleaning, inspection/repair and storage. The propeller needs to be cleaned of very affectionate marine creatures such as encrusting red algae and barnacles having built their dwellings on it. It also needs repainting again. And so the list goes on.
It is now Sunday 24 September and we're taking a day off from the chores to have a look around on Aegina Island. The island's shape is close to a triangle, 15 km across and 10 km from top to bottom. It only takes a couple of hours to drive around it. Kanonis boat yard, our current home, is on the northern-most island facing Athens on the mainland (about 7 km 'as the crow flies'). Its about an hour on a slow ferry and 40 minutes by fast Flying Dolphin hydrofoil to get to/from Piraeus.
The main produce of Aegina is pistachio nuts. Chris has a slight fondness for them and is happy to spend hours easing them out of their shells, or just eating them in the form of ice creams or in chocolate. And Aegina is pistachio-heaven.
Anyway, back to the real world. It is a very pleasant drive and we're visiting small villages like Souvala, Vagia, Ag. Marina and Portes on the northern and eastern side of the island before we cross the island from East to West. The central part of the island is made up of a couple of fairly steep hills and still pretty much free of Athenian bungalows and celebrities’ infinity pools and has some extraordinary views over the island, Athens and the Aegean. The main city of Aegina is on the West side of the island, where also most of the tourist activity is based. There are a couple of nice beaches south of Aegina town such as Marathona and Perdika with eat-drink-and-be-merry infrastructure. We go as far South as the roads permit, close to Cape Pirogos, and enjoy a swim and a lazy deckchair lunch on the beach, finished off with a gratifying ice cream in the shade of some trees on the beach in Marathona. Time to head back and face the chores again.
This year the new deck tent, which covers all her decks and cockpit, will add another layer of protection against sun and rain. Clio's stern is very close to the shore and spray is coming in when there is a bit of wind, so we bought a big (6x5m) tarpaulin to give her backside a bit of protection. We hope it will survive at least most of the winter weather.
It is 27th of September and most jobs are now done. Some others have to wait until we're back from our UK trip as we're off to Athens for our UK trip now. But our charge is already looking great!