Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Winter Haul

For the past two weeks we have been staying in an apartment in Palma. A stone's throw from the magnificent cathedral, we are in an old town house with high ceilings and stone floors divided into three apartments set around an inner courtyard.  Each morning I set off on my bike on a short commute to the boatyard while Fatty has Spanish lessons with Rosa.  In the afternoons, Fatty works on our sailing itinerary for the World ARC and I return at around 7pm, covered in dust from the yard and ready for a cold San Miguel on the terrace, which catches the evening sun. 

The reason we are not staying on board is that Juno has been lifted out of the water and is chocked up in the boat yard for her annual service at STP in the centre of Palma.   STP is one of the finest boatyards in the world for private yachts and Juno is very much the baby, dwarfed by 80 metre sailing yachts and even larger motor vessels, who come to Palma for the facilities, suppliers and expertise which is here in abundance.   It is always slightly nerve wracking when Juno is hauled out of the water, but I talk to the travel lift operator who I remember from our last visit and he cheerfully tells me that he has been doing this job for 30 years, probably lifting five or six boats every day – we are good hands. Juno weighs in at 29 tons - excluding Fatty.

The list of jobs is lengthy and spreads over several pages of my note-book, but this week I have to focus on those items that can only be tackled while we are out of the water. The main jobs are to anti-foul the hull and propeller, change the anodes, service the drive train and propulsion system, and polish the topsides. It is two years since we were last hauled and the hull is in surprisingly good condition, a credit to the anti-fouling system that erodes continually while we sail, shedding marine organisms along the way.  However the propeller is covered with hard encrusted barnacles as the anti-fouling system for metal parts has been ineffective.  The following day workmen arrive and begin the dirty job of sanding, cleaning and masking in preparation for painting new anti-foul.

Meanwhile the engineers from Palma Watch, headed by a hugely knowledgeable German called Dirk, start work on the drive train.  Due to the length of our planned voyage, and as a precautionary measure, I decide to change the bearings that support the propeller shaft. This is quite a lengthy job as it involves removing the propeller, disconnecting the prop shaft from the engine and then removing the shaft itself. Oyster use a system called an Aqua Drive for the drive train and it's quite ingenious. It comprises a large thrust bearing that is bolted into massive cross members just behind the engine compartment.  The prop shaft is then attached to this device so that the propeller pushes the boat, rather than the engine.  The shaft then connects to a constant velocity joint, which is a huge universal joint that articulates, allowing the shaft to connect to the engine gearbox without having to be perfectly aligned.  The final piece in the Aqua Drive system is flexible pads that the engine is mounted on and it is the combination of these three components that results in a quiet engine with little vibration in the boat.

The painters then return to start spraying on the anti-foul paint. They wear white jump suits, masks, gloves and boots to protect them from the highly toxic paint.  They apply three coats with a fourth around the waterline. Next, the old anodes are replaced, and the hull looks better than new. While all this is going on under the water line, on deck we drain the oil from the gearbox in the gooseneck that drives the mainsail furling system. We replace the lip seal and refill the gearbox with transmission oil. The chandlery in the boatyard wants 98 Euros for a container of gear oil and I just can't bring myself to be fleeced again, so instead I spend two hours driving around Palma in the car and eventually I find two litres of oil for 18 Euros. Not great use of time but it makes me feel better.

Next the carpenters arrive and strip and replace all the mastic from the showers rooms. Juan arrives with spice racks that have been made to utilise the galley space more efficiently and he also fits a removable shelf in the lazaret above my dive compressor, perfect storage for the box of shame.  Then the RIB is removed for a major engine service and some repairs to the hypalon which has had a few dings in the Caribbean.

The last few days of the haul are for polishing. Alex arrives and starts work on the topsides. I have invested in a polishing system that comprises three grades of cutting compounds, and two polishes using nano-technology. Nano is the latest buzzword in polishing systems and everyone claims to have some. The result of this is a very slippery surface where the water beads off and it also protects the gel coat from Ultra Violet damage.  In preparation for this job I bought a Festool, a top of the range German electrical polisher, but much to my annoyance after a few hours work it comes to a gutteral halt.  I cycle to the supplier and they lend me a replacement polisher while mine is sent to Barcelona for repair. Alex works his way around the boat and by the end of the second week in the yard the hull is gleaming, but the decks are filthy from accumulated dust and muck in the air.

Paul and Consuelo come to stay for the week-end and Paul helps me to clean the Rib while Fatty and Consuelo go shopping for hats - as you do.  We have a sunny and boozy weekend with trips to our favourite restaurants, an evening at the jazz bar and a walk in the Tramuntana hills above Palma. We drop Paul and Consuelo at the Airport on Sunday evening and collect Andrew who has come to check on his house in Mallorca and has also agreed to be roped in to help with the launch of Juno. All goes nicely to plan and we are joined by engineer Timo who is doing a sea trial after servicing the heat exchanger on our engine, and Rafa, who is testing the new backup auto pilot which he has installed.  Juno feels very slippery with her new clean bottom and we slide through the cold spring water in glorious sunshine and dock in our new marina berth in Port de Mallorca.

Fatty and I clean and tidy before we head home.  We have been in Palma for over two weeks and the time has flown by. We both feel healthy and refreshed by the Mediterranean lifestyle and the simplicity of life on Juno. Lots more of that to come in the year ahead.

1 comment:

  1. Great overhaul and loveley weekend with you guys....but have you got any u-tube clips of more exciting bottoms!