Haulout Again

6 November 2017  Richards Bay, South Africa
We pottered about all day, waiting to haul-out.  Glenys finished off booking our land trips and I reviewed to-do lists and played guitar.  It’s great having a car - we popped out to the Boardwalk Shopping Mall to pay some bills and get a new SIM card for our phone.  We originally bought Telcom SIM cards, but the coverage in Richards Bay is poor and it’s non-existent away from the coast.  We bought an MTN card and it’s much, much better.

I went to see a Chiropractor because, after a year, my feet are still feeling numb and tingling, which had become slightly worse after all the driving and bouncing about in Safari Trucks.  It would appear that my symptoms may be a caused by several things - I have a bulging disk in my lower back; my hamstrings are too tight causing pressure on the Sciatic nerve; and I’m getting cramp in my calves and feet, which could be caused by a lack of minerals.

Labour Intensive

Basically, I’m a mess of knotted muscles and have poor posture.   Living on a boat is not helping.  Most of the time, I’m sitting down while being bounced about at sea;  it’s hard to stand tall on a small yacht; I don’t have a regular exercise regime; and I drink desalinated water, which doesn’t have any minerals at all.   

The Chiropractor gave me some massage; a slight adjustment to my lower back and sent me away with some Calcium and Magnesium tablets to adjust my body’s electrolytes.  I need to restart my core muscle exercises; sit up straight; and stretch my hamstrings.  It’s a bummer getting old.

In the evening, we invited Martin & Maggie from “Dream Catcher” over for a beer or two.

7 November 2017  Richards Bay, South Africa
It was haul-out day.  The skies were grey, but the strong wind that had been forecast hadn’t arrived -yet…  We pottered about all day, waiting for high tide, so that there would be enough depth of water on the haul-out ramp.  High tide wasn’t until 16:30 and the plan was to leave the marina berth at 15:30, so it was a long day, anxiously watching the weather.

By the time the yard was ready, there was a persistent light rain and it was cold enough to be wearing a jumper and socks, but at least the wind stayed below 15 knots.

Out of the water

The haul-out is done using a mechanical haul-out rig, which is pulled up and down a ramp using a large tractor and a cable pulley system.  The slings are raised using block and tackle chains, so it’s a very labour intensive process.  The rig constantly goes in and out of the sea water, so the steel is rusted and so are the chains that lift the boat.  It’s rated at 30 tonnes and Alba weighs 15 tonnes, but the whole system still doesn’t inspire confidence.   

I nudged Alba into the haul-out rig and stopped when our depth sounder read 1.9 metres - no doubt just sliding into soft mud.  Three guys then swarmed over the rig and the boat, tying ropes to hold the boat in position.  I had to remove the inner forestay as well as the forestay because the rig is so small - the mast is now held up by the genoa halyard.

It took ages for them to position the slings.  The foreman was diving under the boat to position the slings to make sure that they didn’t foul our propeller or anything else.  The three of them were in and out of the water wearing ill-fitting wetsuits, so they must have been freezing.  After 30 minutes of fussing about, they finally used the block & tackle to lift the boat and we slowly trundled out of the water.

It was late when they’d got us into position, so they lowered the boat to the ground on a couple chunks of wood and left us in the slings for the night.  We were wet through and cold, so we grabbed a few bags of things and drove to Fig Tree, our self-catering apartment.  The room is small, but very nice with a kitchenette, a big TV and an on-suite bathroom, so we’re happy here rather than roughing it on the boat.

Pressure Washing

8 November 2017  Richards Bay, South Africa
There was no point in rushing to the boat because I knew that the boat yard guys would take all morning to pressure wash and then shore up the boat.   We took our time and went to the supermarket first.  Sure enough, when we arrived at the boat at 10:30, they were still pressure washing the hull. 

We climbed onto the boat and chilled out as much as we could, with loud hammering resounding through the hull as they placed the supports.  Most boat yards have specially modified steel “Acrow” props, which have large screws to adjust the support, but here they use wooden poles that are placed into specially dug holes, and then hammer in wedges to adjust the support.  It’s very labour intensive, but I guess that labour is cheap.

Finally at 14:00, they removed the haul-out rig and I could start work.  I first looked at the rudder.  The bearing at the bottom of the skeg has had excessive play for a while and there are signs that the whole bearing assembly is slightly moving.  I decided to bit the bullet and have a bush made.  I removed the large Phosphor Bronze Fitting and cleaned up the fibreglass on the skeg.  I’ll ask someone to make the bush tomorrow.

The next job was to remove the propeller and the Stripper rope cutter, so that I could get at the worn Cutlass Bearing, which is the main reason that we’re hauling out.  It all went fairly well despite the yard guys who had already started to sand our hull ready for anti-fouling.  I’d printed some photos of them hauling us out yesterday and they were delighted when I gave them one each - in fact they were too helpful and getting in my way, but we were all smiling, which is half the battle.

To my amazement, everything came off with no problems, so I’ve done most of the hard work and now just need to get a few bit of engineering done before I can replace everything.  We ran away to our apartment at 17:30, stopping for a take-away pizza on the way - it’s great having a car.