Saturday, May 9, 2015

Hauled-out in Malta

Manoel Island Yacht Yard -- given to Malta by the British Admiralty when
they no longer had use for it.  Imagine the stories this old place could tell.
Manoel Island Yacht Yard in Malta was our first choice for hauling out this time.  Last haul-out was in Gocek, Turkey in 2013; so it was time again for the routine maintenance and slap on another layer (or 2 or 3) of antifouling paint.  As that Atlantic crossing will be happening in early January, an inspection by a professional rigger also was scheduled.  While we tend to continue to think of S/V BeBe as a fairly 'new' boat, the fact is that she left the Amel yard on 23 January 2003 and is now fully 12 years old!  Certainly the rigging should be checked by a professional before crossing an ocean.  Plus, our insurance company hinted that this inspection would be a requirement before the policy next renews in January 2016; so Malta seemed to be the perfect location to have this inspection performed.  

This goes down into the water, controlled by a cable.  A boat then is moved up between the yellow upright frames and positioned with its keel over the raised middle parts and blocked into place.  Then the cable pulls this contraption with the loaded boat up onto the slipway.  I think this is called a railway and there are 7 or 8 of these.
The 'new' building at Manoel Island Yacht Yard

Malta has more boat related products and businesses than anywhere else we have visited.  Manna from heaven!  Getting work done in Malta made more sense than putting it off until Gibraltar or the Canary Islands.  And we are glad we decided to do it here.  Quite, quite, quite the marine culture here.  And workers who know their jobs well and are conscientious about the quality of their work.   This is a true pleasure.

This can really mess up your boat!
Bridled the sterm to another one
We arrived and managed to tie off to one of the large yellow steel buoys set in front of the old railways which are used to haul out the larger vessels.  All was fine until the wind died.  Then BeBe drifted forward and that big steel drum banged the bow area repeatedly. Cannot have that!  It would scratch the gelcoat!  Bill lengthened the bow line and I maneuvered the boat around and placed our stern near another of those big yellow steel buoys.  The 2 of us were able to get another line looped through the eye on top and set up a stern bridle line.  Then we tightened the bow line a bit and this held us securely away from each buoy regardless of what the wind did or did not do.  Glad there were 2 adjacent vacant buoys to allow us to do this.  The only other boat out on these steel buoys saw what we did and they did likewise.

The slipway is small at this boat yard.  But sufficient. The yard had told us that they have a 50-ton travel lift, but it looked more like a 35-ton lift to me.  Bill said that maybe we had become too accustomed to seeing 300-ton lifts.  Nevertheless, we had to remove the 2 aft mizzen stays and the mizzen boom topping lift in order for this smaller travel lift to properly position the straps at the lifting points on BeBe.  And we have had to do this previously only for 35-ton lifts. Not a big deal; just a little inconvenience.  

Soon we were lifted and set up in the boat yard.  We checked in at the yard office and asked directions to Customs and Immigration so we could formally clear into the country.  Europeans do not have to do this formality but we Americans must. The manager kindly offered to have someone drive us over there; he said it was too far to walk on this unusually hot day.  Thank you very much!!  The driver delivered us right to the doorways and clearance took only seconds in each office.  

En route back to the boat yard we had the driver drop us off at the bridge entrance so we could go in search of a hotel.  The hotels we had called were already booked so we decided to just walk from the boat yard entrance and find one nearby.  Found the perfect place on a side street about 2 or 3 blocks away, called the Euro Guesthouse.  We inspected a room and it would do nicely. The owner kindly gave us the winter rate.  We later provided the info for this hotel/guesthouse to the office at the boat yard so they could add it to their list of recommended hotels.  There is a laundry service directly across the street and a small supermarket less than 1/2 block down.  Not a swanky place but clean and with friendly owners on site.

Just left of that first brace on the right side forward you can
see the SINGLE barnacle on the port side of our hull.
Micron 77 is a great antifouling paint.
When we returned to the boat the pressure washing was in progress.  The Micron 77 antifouling paint did a fabulous job and there was almost no bottom growth at all.  The entire port side of the hull had ONE single small barnacle.  On the starboard side were about a dozen (no more) of tiny barnacles.  This was the side of the boat that received the most shade and was next to the dock for the past 2 winters.  That is the only reason I can guess as to why one side had only one barnacle and the other side had about a dozen.  At any rate, this growth was nothing.  Very pleased with the Micron 77; and, of course, that is what is being applied again this year.

Starboard near aft had the only barnacles on that side; less
than a dozen.  Not bad for 2 years in the water.

The following morning the surveyor arrived and that went very well.  He seemed to be impressed with the condition of the boat.  He did not tell us of anything he found wrong so we expect to receive a positive written report soon.  The last survey was done in Singapore in 2010; insurance companies usually require a formal survey every 5 years, so it was time for this inspection.  The painting crew arrived and wet-sanded the hull in preparation for painting the following day.

This day we also realized that our EPIRB decal indicated that registration was due to be renewed and that the battery had expired a couple of weeks ago.  Bill shopped for a replacement battery and decided to just purchase a new EPIRB instead.  The cost was about the same, plus the newest EPIRB has GPS built into it.  Both the old one and the new one are now registered.  We will carry the old one too even though the battery date expired.

We also sent in the Zodiac life raft for servicing.  We had it serviced in Turkey about 16 months ago but it would need to be serviced again before we cross the Atlantic in January.  Very easy to do here because the authorized service guy has a shop right in the boat yard.  He sent a guy with a dolly to collect the raft and will deliver it back to us when we are berthed in a marina near the end of May when our granddaughter will arrive to sail with us for the summer.  Check another thing off our list.

Beginning descent from inspecting top of main mast
The next day (day #3) the painter was finishing the second coat when we arrived that morning.  He had started at 04:45 that morning in order to get the paint rolled on before the day heated up too much.  Later, the rigger arrived and donned his mountain-climbing gear to go up both masts.  This is the first time we have seen a rigger climb a mast on a boat on the hard; they normally go up only when the boat is in the water.  There was no wind at all this day and maybe that played a part in his decision to climb while boat was on land rather in the water.  Using his gear he basically walked up the side of the mast.  Way up there.  Must be in excellent physical condition to do that!  He inspected every part of the rigging, including the chainplate bolts on the inside of the boat.  I had a difficult time finding those!  But I now know where they are and know what to look for that might indicate any structural degradation. No problems found!!  This is very good news!  We did not expect any problems but realize that this boat is 12 years old, so we were prepared in case we had to replace all rigging if anything significant was found to be inadequate.  

Making his way down, checking everything
The inspection revealed 3 things: 1) the lense cover for the steaming light was cracked (we had a spare and it was soon replaced); 2) at the top of the genoa foil there was evidence of pitting beginning caused by galvanic corrosion between the dissimilar metals (aluminum foil and stainless steel clip for the ballooner sail); and, 3) the 2 round plastic pieces on the ends of the spreaders on the mizzen mast are beginning to crack.  These serve no purpose other than to protect the sail when sailing downwind and the sail might lay against the ends of the spreaders.  We never let the sail put any pressure on those ends; these pieces could crack and fall off and it would have no effect on sailing or safety.  But we asked him to replace these pieces anyway.  Unfortunately, those little things were not to be found anywhere on Malta.  Not a problem but something we will look for as we move to other places.  Bill can replace these if we ever find the parts.

Checking the mizzen rigging, including
those plastic circles on end of spreaders.
Now, back to #2 on the rigging inspection.  The rigger installed a rubber insulation at the top of the genoa foil to prevent the aluminum foil and stainless steel clips from touching one another.  He said this will have no affect on raising and lowering the ballooner sail.  I assume he is correct but won't be fully convinced until we try the sail ourselves.  An aside note: the rigger said that BeBe is in the best condition of any similarly-aged Amel that he has seen.  Said the rigging was in notably good condition.

Day #4 the cleaning and waxing crew arrived.  All stainless steel topsides now shiny and bright.  And every smooth surface above the waterline has been compounded and waxed. We have decided that we are too old to do this kind of work ourselves anymore.  In the past we only paid others to do this work when in areas where labor was cheap.  From this point forward I think we will be paying others to do this work regardless of the labor cost.  One of the curses of aging are the aches and pains and stiff joints.  Just do not think we can do this kind of physical labor anymore.  At least not quickly and all day.  Maybe an hour or 2 each day, but that would make for a very expensive haul out when time is money.

Day #5 the painter returned and applied 4 coats around the waterline.  He waited to do this after the hull was waxed so that the narrow strip next to where the paint and the antifouling meet could be cleaned and waxed before being taped off.  This is the first place where the painters did this process correctly.  That narrow strip usually gets overlooked because tape is applied when the antifouling is applied and then not removed when the topsides are waxed.  This has annoyed us everytime.  Glad it was done right this time.  Turned out we had enough paint to apply 3 coats everywhere, although the painter did set aside enough to be able to paint the bottom of the keel once the boat is lifted by the travel lift.  Cannot do that area while the boat is braced on the hard.  Gosh, I hope he puts 3 coats down there too; but I bet it gets only 2 coats like usual.

Day #6 the guy arrived bright and early to replace the water heater heating element.  We last replaced the water heater in New Zealand either very late 2008 or early 2009 (do not have the records with me as I type this).  So we have had nagging thoughts in the back of our minds for the past year that the water heater could fail at any time.  Sure enough; it did fail the day before we hauled out.  A tiny corrosion hole developed in the heating element -- the normal thing that happens.  Rather than replace the entire unit this time, we opted to replace only the part that had failed.  Now working perfectly once again.

Looking eastward to sea from our yellow steel mooring buoys.
The old walled city of Valletta is to the right out there.
The entrance to here is very narrow and difficult to find.
We are scheduled to launch Monday at 15:00.  This has been absolutely the easiest and best haulout ever for us.  The bow thruster and the C-drive did not need to be serviced, which is work that we insist on doing ourselves.  This should be done every 800 engine hours and we have less than 400 hours since the last servicing.  This was a pleasant surprise for me as I assumed we would have to do these 2 things as usual.  Next time.  Bill did replace the anodes on the line cutter and on the rudder.  And removed the anode we had placed on the propeller during the previous haul out and replaced it with the red nose cap that Amel uses.  We had removed the red cap and replaced it with an anode and have since learned that it is better to use the red cap.  Either will work okay but the red cap is preferable with the bonding system. Owners of other type boats will not understand this.  It is an Amel proprietary thing.

Look closely in lower center and you will see the Tex-Mex
sign.  We were going to eat there for Cinco de Mayo.  But
after reading their menu changed our minds.  We could see
this place when boat was on the mooring before hauling out.

I am uploading this from the hotel.  Since we will be in Malta for such a short time we are not buying phone sim card or data sim card for this country, so internet access will be only when we find an open Wi-Fi signal.

By the way, we found a Turkish cafe here called Moo's Kepab & Pizza and it is great.  Strongly recommend eating here.  It is near the boatyard entrance, facing the water on the main street.  The best food at the best price to be found in Malta.

1 comment:

  1. Nice write up and it's good to know there is quality workmanship in Malta. When it's all done, will you summarize the costs? thanks!


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