The first truly traumatic experience with this boat that I don’t even own yet was a couple of days ago… the full survey with haulout. Alain Vilage was wonderful and a wealth of information, and he spent the day examining her from stem to stern.
Late in the morning, it was time to cast off from the brokerage dock, duck under the Ballard Bridge, and haul out at Seaview East ($9/foot just to get started!). It took a few passes to figure out where the slings should go, prompting me to muse that a place like that should have an underwater camera on a pole readily available… the potential for lifting a 25-ton boat by a prop shaft or other delicate component is rather high. But the guys knew what they were doing, all went well, and the monster slowly rose into the air while I somewhat nervously captured video footage.
The underwater profile is bizarre, but very robust: the huge Max-prop is well protected in an aperture, the skeg supporting the rudder is firmly attached to the keel, and there is a huge “foot” at the bottom that should be able to handle at least casual grounding. All that inspired confidence, but the audio gauge guy started muttering that he couldn’t get meaningful readings through the unknown coating without having to grind away 50 bare patches per side… so we ended up having to block her and leave her in the yard overnight so someone with a different ultrasonic instrument could come the next day. There might be some issues; we found a few strange bubbles in the bottom paint that easily popped and squirted water, with clean steel behind. A full sandblast and bottom paint is an expensive proposition, not to be undertaken lightly, so at this point we just need to be sure the hull is sound.
Much of the challenge here (for the surveyor as well) was figuring out just what we have. There is little documentation from initial construction, and Alain went to considerable effort to expose as many of the critical components as possible. Generally, I believe he was favorably impressed, especially given my intended use… I should have his survey within the next 2-3 days, whereupon the ball will be in my court.
I’m bringing in one more expert for “decision support” before doing anything rash: my friend Ned Konz will visit the boat with me this weekend and do a bit of reverse-engineering on the power systems. There are multiple independent battery banks (house, engine start, generator start, dinghy winch, and windlass) and we need to know how intelligently all the charge management and load distribution have been handled. Ned’s a whiz at this. We have already discovered that the house bank (multiple 6-volt batteries, not all matched, installed in 2001) needs to be replaced, and with the intent of adding a huge solar array, it’s critical that the power infrastructure is reliable and up to ABYC standards.
This certainly is a lot more complex than buying a house ever was…
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