Haul Out, Bottom Paint, Buff and Wax

On Tuesday morning we were scheduled to be hauled out of the water and get the bottom painted. We had decided to have the haulout done in Shelter Bay, for about $600, even though it was more expensive than the $200 or so it would have cost at BYC, because Shelter Bay has a brand new 50 ton travel lift, whereas BYC only has this old railroad track kind of lift, and our friends, KETCHING UP, had received a nasty scratch on their hull being hauled out at BYC. So at 9:00, we were ready to go, and Bruce, the yard manager, gave us the word to move over to the lift to be hauled out.

We weren't really clear on what the procedure was, so it was a little hectic as we pulled into the lift, they tied the straps under RHAPSODY, and began lifting her out of the water. When she was a few feet up in the air, the dock workers communicated to us that we now had to get off the boat, from the bow, by jumping onto the dock. We didn't have time to grab our wallets, books, computers, or even for me to put a shirt on; we just grabbed our shoes and jumped off RHAPSODY as all the workers seemed anxious to get on with their work.

Soon they had RHAPSODY out of the water, and while still in the lift they began to power-wash the bottom. We had nothing better to do, so we went over to the Marina restaurant, where fortunately, in spite of my lack of a shirt, and us having no cash or credit cards, we were able to have breakfast at an outside table and put it on our marina bill. When we finished breakfast, we went back over to the dry dock area where we found that they had moved RHAPSODY and "blocked her up" on some stands. After a bit of running around, we were able to scare up a ladder so that we could climb the 10-12' up to the transom and get back aboard.

Thus began our "tree house" experience of living on RHAPSODY while she was in dry dock. Since we didn't want water draining onto the hull, we were unable to use our sinks, and had to make do with a bucket of water, in which we washed our dishes and so on, emptying it by hand each day. Also, being out of the water, we could not run the (water-cooled) air conditioners. We were able to use shore power, though, after I fashioned an adaptor to allow me to plug the boat into a regular 110V socket. Fortunately, we have holding tanks for our toilets on board, and were able to take showers in the marina. We had expected the work to take 3-4 days, but we ended up living "on the hard" for 7 days and nights.

The next day, Wednesday, the workers began to prep the bottom for painting. While they did, they discovered a number of small osmotic blisters in the fiberglass that would need repair. Each blister, all less than 1" in diameter, had to be opened up, chiseled out, and then the edges ground down so that they could be sealed with an epoxy filler. There were about 40 of them, so that prep work took almost an entire day.

We had not be able to locate any blue bottom paint, and so had decided, after some consternation, to have the bottom painted red. We had been in communication with Bruce while we were at BYC and gone through the process of selecting the paint. We needed between 5 and 10 gallons. At first Bruce had suggested that we go with an expensive paint, at $350 a gallon, and estimated that we would need 10 gallons. I was shocked and dismayed at the thought of spending $3500 on the paint alone, so asked Bruce if he could find something less expensive. I also asked him if he thought we really needed 10 gallons. In the end we got 5 gallons of "International Interspeed 640" for $700 ... about $140/gallon, and it turned out to be plenty, although it only came in red.

On Thursday they applied the epoxy filler, and on Friday they finished prepping and sanding and began painting. They put one coat on Friday, and another on Saturday. We used just about all the paint putting a third coat on the critical leading edges of the hull and keel, and saved a half gallon or so for painting the bottom of the keel, which couldn't be reached while RHAPSODY was on blocks, but later when she was back up in the sling about to be returned to the water.

Another thing that we had done was to have the topsides buffed and waxed. It rained on Sunday morning, so the crew didn't start until that afternoon, and they only worked for an hour or two, and so the wax and buff job wasn't completed until the end of the day on Monday.

On Tuesday they lifted RHAPSODY up again and put her in the water. We motored out of the marina and emptied the heads, then returned to a slip, where once again, we hooked up the shore power, and were able to use our sinks and air conditioners again. Although it took longer than expected, we were quite pleased to see RHAPSODY all dolled up again, with fresh coats of bottom paint and a nice wax job on the hull, she looked like new again!

Haul Out and Bottom Paint