Oh the frustration! We should be enjoying a relaxed “shake down” cruise up the coast from Brisbane right now, as a prelude to joining the Sail 2 Indonesia cruise in Cairns, but the sea gods have dictated otherwise.
It has been a question of two steps forward, one step back, since we brought Bali Hai out of the water at the Rivergate Marina in mid-March. The plan was to have a targa frame fashioned from which to hang our dinghy and to house our three new solar panels. We also needed to have Bali Hai checked out prior to going cruising as well as apply anti foul, repaint her boot stripe, and fix a few “dings”.
The stainless steel work was completed and we couldn’t be happier with the wonderful craftsmanship and care taken by Stella Marine.
Other work that we didn’t anticipate but were happy had been discovered, was required – the rudder needed remodelling ( not straight ); the keel needed grinding out (as it had more “hits” than Elvis,); the propeller was very loose and without repair could have been an accident waiting to happen. That was all fairly easy to accept and we were thankful that we had managed to sail her back from Hamilton Island without losing steerage or having any other potential mishap.
So progress was in the making. However, an innocuous looking, very small, crack in the bilges turned out to be the harbinger of bad news. It seems that a large portion of Bali Hai’s “skin” on her starboard side had delaminated. For the uninitiated, that is not just bad news but very expensive, terrible news. It seems, according to the surveyor who assessed the damage, that while our boat was on charter, she had not only been grounded, but very likely “smacked” on her side on the ocean floor causing shock waves to shudder through the hull – and thereby damaging the fibreglass hull.
The first contractor, sensitive soul that he was, said to Jonathan “well you can forget your trip, the repair will take six weeks”. As you can imagine, Jonathan looked like there had been a death in the family when he arrived home that night.
Thankfully we sought second, third and fourth opinions (including a second specialist surveyor) who agreed that the first contractor was being over zealous /cautious (or over something?!) The second contractor, Mitchell, who we knew well already as he had already remodelled our forward cabin beautifully, was able to get a team together (he was already committed to another job) to help with the preparation and then he and his assistant applied layer after layer of resin. He managed to complete the work in six days! All under survey of course.
Jonathan and I then spent the weekend applying the anti foul and last Monday (May 2 and 3) Bali Hai was back in the water where she belongs – after six long weeks! Hurray! We were on track to leave, with a reasonable amount of time to get to Cairns by June 19 to meet up for a farewell long weekend. with our son Ben and partner Sarah,
But no, settle down, don’t get excited for us just yet, we are taking another step back and feeling the frustration again. The next job was to get all the new equipment – HF radio, AIS (which allows you to see all shipping in your vicinity on-screen, with size, coordinates, course etc) , new chart plotter, TV etc, wired up and working. In the course of all this a horrible discovery…… Our autopilot had packed up (the first time this happened was the day we took possession after it came off charter last October!) and the manufacturers said they couldn’t even look at it for two weeks.
Fortunately Richard our electrician, knew “someone” who knew someone who worked on tugboats in the Brisbane River and was “a whizz” with autopilots. The unit was delivered to him two nights ago. Now we wait with our breath collectively held………
While we wait I have been cooking up a storm to fill our new freezer with nourishing meals to eat when we are doing long distant sailing and not stopping at anchorages overnight – curries, lasagnes, shepherds pies, banana cake. I have also been pondering important questions such as how many toilet rolls will we need while sailing round the more remote islands of the Indonesian Archipelago? (We are told availability of soft rolls is limited) and equally importantly how many wine casks will we need to take to last us until mid-November? Hate to admit it but if we took the equivalent in bottles the boat would sink…..