The adventures of Yacht Flirtie

"Hi, we are sailing yacht Flirtie's crew, Bruce and Caroline. Welcome to our blog.

Manoel Island Yacht Yard - Boatyard life

Flirtie in the 75 ton travel hoist carefully being moved. At first glance, the 2.5 year old International Micron 99 antifouling has performed really well by continuously wearing - as stated on the can! This year we've applied three coats of International Micron 350 to yield two seasons

"... so there's time to relax and prepare Flirtie for the lift". These were the last words taken from our previous blog however there wasn't time to relax because we were lifted that same day. Just hours after reporting into reception and having our photos taken for security passes we were advised that they wanted to lift us right away because they were now expecting a huge ship that would require 'all hands on deck' aka. all the yard staff. What was going to be a relaxing afternoon suddenly became quite frantic as we wrestled with dropping and stowing the genoa in the strong afternoon breeze.

Once we'd tamed the flogging sail and sheets (ropes) that behaved more like whips our focus turned to the actual lift. Even now, the whole lifting process still comes with some apprehension. From the moment that Flirtie arrives in the bay the travel hoist lifting straps are aligned with marks on the hull before being tensioned. That's the moment when we hope that the straps don't slip and the moment where we realise that the safety of our beloved boat is now in the hands of an experienced travel hoist operator. The apprehension remains right up to the moment when she has been safely chocked up in the yard, only then do we breathe a sigh of relief.

With Flirtie now safely chocked, it didn't take us too long to remember that life in a boatyard is dirty, dusty and hot as well as being physically demanding. Days can be long, especially when the staff in Manoel Island Yacht yard start at 6am so naturally this included us too. Climbing up and down ladders, staging platforms and lifting heavy items around as well as all the twisting and turning certainly took its toll on the joints and muscles over the course of our stay but we feel fitter for it!

As mentioned previously, we have treated ourselves to feathering propellers and despite the many manufacturers out there, Darglow was our preferred choice after undertaking a lot of research from yachting magazines, forums and even Facebook groups. The overall consensus was that Darglow's 'Featherstream' performed well in most categories when it was tested with the competition.

Our first task was to provide Darglow with a number of measurements from the existing propellers. These measurements were needed so they could determine (and machine) the diameter & pitch of the new propellers as well as the taper, keyway and thread. Afterwards we removed the propellers which was relatively straightforward. Our cheap prop puller from Portugal didn't let us down and both came free as soon as we applied a little bit of pressure to the socket.

Bruce removing the one propeller

With the props finally removed we could then focus on checking all the underwater fixtures and fittings, preparing the hull for fresh antifouling paint and tidying up the waterline because the paint was flaking off.

removing the flaky paint/gelshield being applied

After our checks we concluded that it was sensible to replace the starboard cutlass bearing and both volvo shaft seals and all the zinc anodes. This meant that both propeller shafts had to come out. Our prop shafts are solid stainless steel, heavy and just shy of 2m long. It took both of us to remove them from their respective stern tubes and P-brackets. Thankfully we are very familiar with the process so it didn't take too long. In fact it was perfect timing as the next day our special package arrived.

Both shafts were passed to the yard for them to check for trueness. Thankfully both were within recommended tolerances. The starboard shaft was lapped (a fine finishing process, which leads to a surface with low roughness and high precision) with its corresponding propeller so that it fitted perfectly. The port shaft needed the taper and keyway changing slightly before it was also lapped with its corresponding propeller. Finally a die was run down both threads to ensure the new propeller nuts were a perfect fit.

Darglow featherstream propellers and HydroAxa cutters fitted. Beautifully engineered

We chose Manoel Island Yacht Yard for a number of reasons but one of the most important was that they had access to the machinery and skills to undertake any works we thought that may be necessary when changing the propellers. The previous owner had warned us that both shafts were different because one had been replaced after a botched shaft seal change that resulted in both the propeller and shaft being lost at sea. Even though the skills and machinery were available, everything still took a lot longer than we initially anticipated.

As for the weather, it was pretty extreme. Daytime temperatures swung wildly from a respectable 18 degs through to a sweltering 29 degs and winds from almost nothing to gale force 10. Force 10 winds on the hard weren't pleasant and we felt for Flirtie as she creaked and shook on her chocks. All we could do was hope that she and all the other yachts around us would stay upright.

When we weren't actually working on the hull or propellers we serviced the life jackets, the dive tanks and arranged disposal of our expired flares plus we spent the odd afternoon in the "Londoners Pub" for happy hour.

We now wait for the launch. It could be interesting as we won't actually know if the propeller pitch is correct until we've performed sea trials. We have everything crossed.