Friday, April 11, 2014

Hauling Out, Part 2, Living on the Hard

Bella Vita on land - not normal!

Brett and I have been living on Bella Vita for almost five years now, almost two of those out cruising, so we are very aware of all the systems on our boat and how everything works on a normal day.  That said, hauling out in New Zealand would be our first time living on the boat OUT of the water.  Not really an experience that either on of us was looking forward to.

It doesn't look too scary
from this angle, but
trust me,  it's steep!
As our readers may (or may not!) know, many systems on a boat are dependent on water to operate.  For us, this includes the refrigeration system, the engine, the genset, and especially the toilets!  That means that when the boat is out of the water (“on the hard”) and doesn’t have access to water, those systems don’t work.  Yep……think on it….living without a toilet nearby for 10 days.  How does that sound to those of you who regularly get up in the wee hours of the night like I do?  Add to that the fact that to get off  the boat you have to climb down a nice, steep ladder.  Did I mention that I often have to go in the middle of the night…..when it’s DARK????  I know, I know, too much information – but I’m trying to give you a clear mental picture here.  Have you got it?  If not, check out the ladder shot I’ve included.

Okay, so I’m relieved to report that there were toilets located about 400 feet from where they put our boat (soooo thankful they didn’t put us in the back 40, which is like a 1/4 mile from the bathrooms!!!), so at least isn’t wasn’t too far to travel EVERY TIME the urge struck – but not exactly fun at 3am either.

Some of the daily chaos inside...
Add to that the fact that we couldn’t keep our refrigeration or freezer going, so all of our food was being babysat by a very kind cruising friend of ours while we were out of the water.  This can make feeding two people for 10 days a bit of a challenge.  It did, however, help us convince ourselves that there would be no way to live this way without a car – especially since Norsand Boatyard is about a 40 minute walk (one way) out of town.  Knowing we would likely need frequent trips to the boat store, hardware store and grocery store was exactly the push we needed, so we signed on for a cheap rental car – which was worth every penny!

The galley is not exactly
ripe for meal prep, eh?
Cooking was definitely a challenge, but the yard did have a nice BBQ that the boaters were allowed to use, so most dinners consisted of running to the store for items that were easy to barbeque.  Since we also didn’t have the ability to heat water, all water for dishes had to be hauled from the small kitchen to our boat (yep – up that big ladder!).  I quickly devised an easy solution – a big thermos we use during passages was just the amount of water we needed for dishes once a day.  Much easier to haul that to the boat then to haul the dishes to their kitchen!

A real positive was that the yard had showers that were nice and clean, so for a mere dollar a day (each) we could have 6 minutes of bliss with a hot shower after a long day of hard labor.

So other than no toilets at hand, no refrigeration and no hot water on the boat – how was living on the hard? 

Where do we sit and eat???
Not too bad….as long as you could get past the chaos on the INSIDE of the boat.  When you are trying to get back IN the water as quickly as possible, you may be working on several jobs at a time - depending on what stage they are each at.  Every job takes a meriad of support stuff.  All that stuff is normally stored away, but not anymore!  Lockers everywhere spilled forth their contents and at times it seemed every surface was covered.  Why not put it away, you ask?  Well, as soon as you do, you are guaranteed to need it again, so why put the puzzle away at all?  So out it all stays.  Frustrating, but it's really the only way to do things quickly. There were countless times when I would have to tell Brett that if he wanted food, he'd have to create a space for us to sit and eat.  Hunger is a powerful tool it seems!  But understanding and accepting the chaos is not something either of us consider fun. pretty much sucks.

I can't even get out without
climbing over something!
Okay, so it’s not all fun and games, but it really is amazing what you can get used to when you have to.  Plus there is the added bonus of making new friends in the yard, usually while we were all using the yard BBQ to make our dinner (we’re all in the same proverbial boat after all).  We also had the pleasure of catching up with some friends we hadn’t seen in months. A big thanks to Irene and Lionel on Kiapa for having us over to the place they were housesitting for a break from the yard – so needed that!  Add to that a dinner or two out in town and the time passed pretty darn fast. 

Overall, some good, some bad, but something we had to do regardless of how we felt as we have to maintain our boat and that’s where we live.  So you you suck it up and make the most of it.  Think of it as camping out, right?  And it puts us that much closer to being out on the water again for more adventures. 

 But I won’t miss that ladder at all!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Seahawk Antifouling Paint - A Product View

Brett and Bella Vita back in 2012 prior to our departure.

Bella Vita coming out of the water in New Zealand.
Before we left in late summer of 2012, we hauled out to renew our bottom paint.  At the time I was still working at Fisheries Supply and so had a lot of contacts in the marine industry - one of which was Tony Bulpin, West Coast representative for Seahawk paint.  I was very curious about Seahawk as I'd been watching our sales of the product go up and up - so we offered to be a "test" boat for their paint as we would be passing through a variety of waters and putting on a LOT of miles.  After talking extensively with Tony, we all decided that Seahawk Cukote, with a biocide booster additive would be just the ticket to carry us across the many miles we would travel to New Zealand.

Note the mud and growth along the
hull - not there 3 months prior...
Seahawk Cukote is a semi-ablative bottom paint loaded with cuprous oxide (aka copper) that is supposed to be a little bit harder than most ablative paints.  We applied two coats over the entire bottom with one extra coat at the waterline.  We were a little concerned that so many miles would cause an ablative paint to slough off too quickly, but Tony was convinced Seahawk Cukote would perform well. 

After 10,000 miles I'm happy to say that Tony was right!  When you are traveling as many miles as we did this last season, it's very important that the boat stays protected.  Over time the bottom would develop a thin layer of slime (completely normal with all bottom paints), but it would remove easily by simply wiping it with a cloth - considered normal maintenance for cruisers.  When we were getting ready to leave for New Zealand we did this process one last time (as NZ is pretty picky about how clean your bottom is when you arrive) and took a close look at how the paint was aging.....and it looked GREAT!  We still had plenty of coverage and almost zero growth - very pleasing results after thousands of miles!

Bella Vita post-power wash - MUCH better!!!
We arrived in New Zealand and immediately took our boat to the Town Basin Marina in Whangarei, where we left it on pile moorings for three months.  This is some of the most disgusting water we've seen in our travels - it's considered "brackish" (a combination of salt and fresh water) and is so muddy and dirty that you can only see about 3 inches deep.  On top of that, the water is VERY shallow, so you're often resting in the mud at low tide.  We were a little worried about the effect that would have on Bella Vita's bottom, especially since she hadn't sat ANYWHERE for that long since we've owned her.

Even after sanding to prep for new paint, note the
amazing amount of coverage still on the hull, which means
very little paint sloughed off over 18 months on the go.
The morning of the haulout arrived and unfortunately the bottom did have a pretty thick coating of mud and we were a little dismayed to see quite a bit of growth on the hull.  This had happened in just three short months???  But I'm relieved to report that all the new growth came right off with a power wash - so no big deal in the end.

Bottom line?  We are now firm believers in Seahawk paint and feel it's every bit as good as what is being offered by Pettit and International (Interlux).  We strongly encourage any sailors to give it a try as the price is usually competitive and even in a variety of different waters - ranging from cold (Northwest) to warm (Tonga), the paint performed equally well.  If you give it a try we think you'll be happy with the results.

Bella Vita with her new paint - Seahawk Biocop.
In fact we were so impressed that we've put it on again and will continue to see how it performs over the next two years.  We did make one small adjustment - this year we applied Biocop which from what I understand is basically the same paint as Cukote, but with the extra Bioboost already added - much easier!

We'd like to thank Seahawk Paint, and specifically Tony Bulpin and Nigel Hood (the New Zealand Seahawk representative) for educating us about Seahawk products and for letting us test your paint.  If our readers have any questions about our experience with Seahawk paints, please don't hesitate to ask in the comment section below.
Cukote’s high loading of cuprous oxide makes this formulation a top performer, even in the most severe fouling areas. As an ablative, self-polishing coating, there is no buildup of bottom paint over time. Your hull's underwater surface remains smooth and clean. Cukote copolymer can also withstand removal from water without affecting its antifouling properties. Cukote is the premium self-polishing antifouling paint that has established the standard in the industry. - See more at:

Bella Vita ready to face the ocean again.