Category: Mainland Mexico
I had a dream…

About 9  months ago, I had a dream that our boat was rolling down the road.  It was like a parade.  The next morning, I told some friends about the dream and we had a good laugh.  Low and behold, this weird dream actually came true.

Long after the dream and while in Mexico, we learned about a boatyard that uses a hydraulic lift to take boats out of the water and down the street to the storage yard.  At the time of my dream, we had no knowledge of such a system.  In most boatyards, the boats are hoisted out by a huge crane and then set down right there on the spot.

Here are the pictures of my dream and the reality!  Our floating home and soon to be missionary office is safely tucked away for storage.  Our next step is to continue our partnership building and fundraising to head to Papua New Guinea.  Please prayerfully consider joining our team!

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Preparing the boat for storage

Preparing the boat for the storage yard was much, much harder than we thought it would be.  The 4 of us spent 12 hours a day for 7 straight days in 99° heat and 97% humidity moving off the boat and getting it ready.  We are intimately familiar with the term sweating buckets!

Bragging alert:  The kids worked harder than I have ever seen them work with the fewest amount of complaints I have ever heard.   We did take a few minutes to hose down and swing from the main halyard too!

We spent many hours cleaning and removing the salt that had accumulated over the past months.   Since the boat will be subjected to extreme heat (more than had we left it in the water) we had to take extra precautions to prevent sunlight from coming into the boat, not to mention removing everything that could melt or explode.  We were told by others that we should remove anything that would be damaged if it were put in an oven heated to 150°.

Hopefully, our hard work will pay off and our floating home will be safe and sound while we are away.

Here are some photos of the process we went through and I am happy to report we SURVIVED!

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Got RUST?

Somewhere along the way, I got the impression that stainless steel is rust proof. I have now learned that I was badly mistaken! We are in constant combat against sand, salt, and sun. The tropical environment has added flanking maneuver to the battle called RUST!

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All boats are built using various metal fasteners, hardware and other components. Specific types of metals have jobs they do well and each has a different corrosion characteristic. In the case of stainless steel, we have an abundance and it requires a lot of care and tends to rust quickly when it does not get it!

Removing the surface rust is possible but requires that we rub every single inch with stainless polish and then buff again with a clean rag. We then buff a second time with a wax free protective wipe-on coating – like waxing a car. This monthly project takes 2 crew members about 4 hours to complete stem to stern.

For all you techies, here’s the real deal on stainless and rust.

The term stainless steel is applied to a handful of steel alloys, which only a few are suited for use in marine environments. Stainless steel is made up of chromium and nickel. The chromium reacts with oxygen to form an oxide film that is tough and protects the underlying metal from corrosion. Corrosion occurs when this oxide film is either rubbed away or prevented from forming by the elements in the environment. Unfortunately, the chloride found in sea water (which gets all over everything!) prevents the protective film from forming. With no protective coating, the rust attacks immediately and constantly.

If we were back in the rainy Pacific Northwest, the rate of corrosion is lessened greatly. Practical experience proves this because we did not need to polish the stainless in the past 4 years. Temperature also increases the rate of corrosion. The rising temperature here in the tropical climate combined with the salty environment means we need to polish all stainless steel surfaces with a wax free solution monthly. We can slow the opposing force but we cannot defeat it.

The type of stainless steel used on boats is referred to as 304 or 316, and some 318. 304 is suitable for non-stressed hardware and interior finishes. 316 is stronger and used for items such as deck fittings and rigging. Things on our boat that are stainless steel include the lifeline railings and gate, hand bars for holding during rough seas, latch-down bars, standing rigging and turnbuckles, anchor windlass, dinghy davits, turning and running blocks, winches, shackles, steering wheel, dodger frame, and miscellaneous nuts, bolts and hardware.

The corrosion we are trying to manage above the water line involves four categories:IMG_2878x

  • Surface Pitting – where impurities in the metal enable corrosion at an accelerated rate;
  • Weld Decay – where welded joints lack enough chromium due to the welding process and corrode at a faster rate creating, over time, a weak joint;
  • Crevice corrosion – occurs when there is a lack of oxygen on the surface of the stainless steel, such as inside or under fittings;
  • Stress corrosion – any fittings under constant tension (aka tensile stress)

In addition to polishing, we spend effort taking things apart, cleaning and reassembling. To help prevent corrosion, we also keep items hidden from the enemy – covered with canvas or we put them in stowage.

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A final and effective weapon is a common garden sprayer filled with a solution of “Salt Away.” This water-based product instantly dissolves salt upon contact. We use it on stainless hardware that holds up the mast and rigging. We definitely don’t want rust there!

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Here’s a slide show of our stainless steel gate – Before, During, and After the polishing effort.  From start to finish, it took about 30 minutes to do the front and the back.   And then, repeat in 30 days or less!  Yikes!

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What works and what doesn’t – under the waterline

Welcome to the next installment of What works, What doesn’t:

This installment is also available onYouTube!

The other day I needed to go under the boat  to clean the prop and drive shaft…again.  This is a chore which must be done every other week or so.  After I came back on deck I brought with me a good number of stow a ways…(small crabs and other critters).  After thoroughly rinsing off on deck I went down below to get some dry cloths and found one more tiny crab behind my right ear.  I promptly helped it overboard – out the port window!

As a result, I am calling this segment …

Barnacles, Crabs and Critters…..Oh my!

Keeping the bottom of the boat clean is an important monthly task for reasons other than simply making it neat and tidy looking.  The rate at which algae, sea grass, barnacles and other sea creatures accumulate is astounding.  Especially in tropical waters.  The further we go into the Pacific directly translates into increased frequency of under water maintenance.  I call this underworld the land of OZ.

As Dorothy said to Toto…“We’re not in Kansas anymore!”

Just prior to leaving Portland, OR back in September we had the boat lifted out of water and new anti-fouling paint applied.  Even with this new application the boat still needs to be scrubbed at least once a month.  The water line needs attendance at least every other week.

From an operational aspect of living aboard, it is essential to keep water supply (thru hulls) clear for engine cooling, water making, and heads.  In addition, the running gear (propeller, drive shaft and rudder) must be kept unencumbered and protected against electrolysis with zinc.

We can accomplish these tasks by hiring local folks, or with the proper equipment, tools and practical experience we can be self efficient.   As we are spending this time in training, we have been able to take care of these duties quite well. As we move into PNG and remote areas I believe this is something we are going to need to be able to do.

Check out our YOUTUBE VIDEO if you want to go with us into  the underwater world of OZ.

Gina and I debated for some time whether to go ahead with the expense to bring SCUBA (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) equipment with us, along with the ability to refill tanks.   The discussion centered around what if scenarios.  The opportunity to explore the underwater world can, in most cases, be accomplished by simply snorkeling.  However, we had to consider a range of maintenance issues, including a wrapped anchor chain around boulders, which happened to us at Isla Isabelle.

We have SCUBA set up for two divers at one time with a back up system for a third called a “hookah” whereby the air tank is left on deck or in a float and the diver has a simple regulator to breath under water.  It is practical and quick way to get into the water to take care of an “issue”.  We always dive with two people in the water together.  This is known as the buddy system and is a safety measure.

The tools we use to clean off the bottom of the boat are quite simple.  First is the anti fouling paint itself.  Described as an ablating finish, when you wipe it with the second tool – a brush, the top surface of the paint actually comes off.  This means minimal effort in scrubbing the growth off the surface.  As a result some of the paint ends up floating around in the water.  Bottom paints sold in the US these days are rapidly evolving – biodegradable and not harmful to the environment.  However, else where in the world paints using tributyltin (TBT) are still commonly used and toxic to apply, have a negative impact when brushed in the water, and require special handling when sanding or scraping on land.  These TBT paints do a great job keeping the bottom clear for longer periods of time, but just not worth using.

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In the old days of shipping, ship wrights covered the undersides of wood ships with copper plates This was very effective at curbing undergrowth.  However still used today, the vast shipping and recreational boating industries world wide has made use of copper not practical.  Some anti-fouling paints today do have a copper base and are ablative.  However any metals, even less toxic copper, still have a negative environmental impact in tight areas such as marinas and heavily transited waterways.

While anti-fouling paints and methods make wiping the bottom easier (albeit more often) we still have the problem of crustaceans and critters attaching themselves to the surface and clogging thru hulls.  For this we have the 3rd and 4th tools, a wide scraper and screw driver.  When you tap these barnacles they easily pop off and are sent on their way.  Some times we find crabs in the water intake holes, which the screw driver helps to chase them out, along with knocking out the barnacles.  We have no idea how crabs swim their way to the bottom of the boat.

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The other aspect to underwater maintenance is keeping the rudder, propeller and drive shaft clean for full movement.  The barnacles and critters love to grow in the gaps and crevices….like where the drive shaft comes out of the boat and around the rudder.

Once we have the bottom in good shape we then always check to make sure there is no corrosion of the metal fittings and drive gear (shaft and prop).  This issue is known as electrochemical corrosion and requires a whole newsletter on its own.  However, for this maintenance review we show the checking to make sure the zinc fittings on the shaft and prop are in good shape with the 5th tool, an allen wrench.

Zincs are very soft metal devices which corrode much faster than hard metals such as the shaft (stainless steel) and the prop (bronze).  They are bolted to the harder metal and do the job of protecting the important, and expensive driving gear.  We have been in the sea for almost 5 months and found the zincs to be at the end of their useful life.  In fact, some time a few days ago the shaft zinc had disintegrated to the point we lost it off the shaft while motoring to the present location to complete this update.  I am actually surprised they lasted this long.

With the bottom clear of growth and new zincs installed, it is now time to clean up the gear with fresh water, refill the air tanks, and stow everything back into it’s place.  We repeat the underwater check every few weeks and we’ll likely have to clear the bottom of barnacles, crabs and critters in a months time.

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Since Nikki is not old enough to SCUBA we have her help us scrubbing the water line, which at times is a whole job in itself.

Thanks for your interest in our mission.  Until next time … adios!

 

 

 

 
Guineafowl puffer fish

Niki loves nature and managed to catch this beautiful fish while we were in the marina in Barra de Navidad.  These fish are very common here and we love seeing them.

{Note:  no animals were harmed in the making of this photo}

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