“Cruising” on the Hard

“On the hard” is what boaters call it when we have the boat hauled out of the water and blocked up on the land. We were due for our every-three-years bottom maintenance – not our favorite thing, but important to do. We cruised 40 miles down to the town of Wrangell, which has a big boat yard and two large travel lifts: 150 tons and 300 tons. The consolation prize for the disruption and hard work was that we could spend some time with our Wrangell friends (which was wonderful).

We cruised ADVENTURES into the lift well, and this giant frame (a travel lift) loomed over us while workers positioned the straps under the boat. This lift has a 150 ton capacity, which means that it doesn’t have to work very hard to lift our 32 tons.

Once we were up and out we had a hired guy power wash the slime and marine growth off the bottom paint, and the pad we’re suspended over collected all the barnacles and bottom paint residue for proper disposal. It takes every bit of 90 minutes to get the bottom clean, including bringing in a beefy diesel-powered washer to get the barnacles off the running gear (props, shafts, struts and rudders).

You can see lots of small barnacles on the rudders and the center of the props, and some mussels on top of the rudders and tops of the struts. I didn’t dive on the boat in the fall to clean the gear as I normally do, knowing that we would haul out this spring. Overall the boat’s bottom was in pretty good shape after three years!

We had a crew do the bottom painting – they can do it much faster than we can, but we do all the rest of the work. They had some really cool toys – I want one of these! Can you imagine how much easier it would be to work on the higher spots on the boat with this tracked scissor lift?

We both worked for about a day and a half removing all the old paint and coatings off the shafts, struts, rudders and props. I’m sure Jim is smiling under his mask…

…and I (the painting department) installed all new zincs and applied the various special coatings to keep the growth off the running gear.

Our last big chore was to replace the seals on our stabilizer fins. The fins have a 2″ shaft that sticks out from the boat on each side, with a 6 sq. ft. fin on each. Inside the boat a gyro controls an engine-driven hydraulic pump to move the fins to counteract roll. They give us a nice ride in lumpy seas, and we wouldn’t want to go out in big water without them!

The fins are very heavy (almost 100 lbs. each), and they’re pressed onto a tapered shaft. To remove them, Jim took the retaining bolt out and replaced it with a hydraulic fitting. The little video shows how he blew one of the fins off.

He checked over the shafts and replaced the two seals that keep the ocean on the outside of the boat…

…and then he used a very long wrench with a torque adapter to re-install the fin onto its tapered shaft.

We still live aboard whenever we’re “on the hard”, which means that we can’t shower or wash dishes since those things drain out the side of the boat and would make a mess on the ground. It’s a good way to stay in shape, since we have to climb a ladder to get up to the boat a gazillion times a day, and it’s a good walk to the yard’s bathroom or over to the local laundromat where we can buy a shower for $3. No matter how many old rugs and mats I put around, it’s impossible not to track grit and dirt all around the boat. Life is hard, on the hard… but that keeps us motivated to work hard and get it over with!

The happy moment comes when the travel lift starts heading over to get us and put us back in the water. As soon as we were afloat and got the engines started, we cruised back home to Petersburg. Enjoy the ride!

Art, and Life Back on the Island

Before we flew back home we took a day to visit Tacoma’s Museum of Glass. There are exhibit halls as well as a working “hot shop” where you can watch glass art being made by the Museum’s team or by visiting artists from around the world. The day we visited there was a Swedish artist working in the shop, making a large teardrop shape incorporating lots of glass canes. It’s really neat to watch the process throughout the day.

One of the galleries was closed while they changed exhibits, but the glass art in the hallways was just as fun to see.

The various galleries are always changing, featuring a particular artist or style of glass art. The range of things that can be created in glass boggles the mind! We stepped into the open gallery to find an artist that we’re familiar with – Preston Singletary – a Tlingit whose work we’ve admired many times. Wow!

This is all GLASS… sometimes with a matte finish, sometimes opaque combined with translucent elements. The small items were beautiful, but the canoe and collection of busts were amazing.

It was a great way to wrap up our trip “down south”, and the day after we got home we had the chance to see another kind of art show. Our local radio station, KFSK, had a “Wearable Art Show” fundraiser – and we always try to support the station. Many of the pieces created by local people highlighted the problem of plastic trash impacting our planet…

…and the pieces below showed how to use objects from nature and natural dyes to decorate clothing – done by a local botanist.

Mother Nature got in on the artistic theme with a dusting of frost on the muskeg in the early mornings, and geometric patterns as ice started to form in the kettle ponds… only to thaw in the sunlight and repeat the process overnight.

We really miss our town when we’re away, especially the strong sense of community. Everyone sticks together and helps one another, which is important when you live on an island. During the ridiculously long Federal government shut-down, many businesses and groups in town stepped up to help people impacted by it, particularly our Forest Service and Coast Guard contingents. And after it was all over, those groups took out ads in the paper to say “thank you” and posted this nice sign on the message board outside of the Forest Service office.

Classy. It’s just another example of why we love it here. And we know how to have fun too! April is the annual fundraiser for the Humane Society where you can have a flock of plastic pink flamingos installed in someone’s yard for a day. A donation will get someone “flocked”, and the “flock-ee” makes a donation to get the birds removed. Or you can buy “anti-flock” insurance. We flocked some friends (who can’t retaliate since the flamingos can’t come down to the harbor!), and they sent photos.

Karen loves all animals so she offered the visiting birds some peanuts, but reported that they didn’t like them. I said I hoped they didn’t make too much mess in their yard and Don replied, “flamingo poop everywhere.” Oh well, it’s all for charity!

The deer are wandering around town, starting to nibble on the skunk cabbage shoots as soon as they appear, and I’m sure they’re eating any flowers they can find. I spotted a male orca cruising up the Narrows while walking one morning, and people’s chickens are starting to wander around – sometimes disappearing when a lucky goshawk or eagle stops by.
You just never know what you’ll see!