This boat has a way of testing us in ways we never imagined.
After being away from the boat for over 7 months we came back to a boat full of black mould – again! When we bought the boat it was full of black mould from being closed up for a long time and it took months to get it cleaned. During the 7 months away we had developed two new water leaks from deck fittings and this moisture in a closed dark warm environment was just perfect for the spread of black mould. Getting rid of black mould is nasty – working with bleach in closed poorly ventilated spaces requires gloves and masks and is just plain hard work. There was black mould everywhere and it took us weeks to again get rid of it.
We repaired the leaks and then decided that we needed to get ahead of the maintenance curve. It looked like the sealant around the deck fittings was getting to the end of its useful life and starting to fail. We decided to replace the sealant on all the deck fittings including the 3 hatches. Working with Fix 15 (the best description is ‘liquid rubber’) is not far behind getting rid of black mould. It is excellent at keeping water out but not easy to work with. If it gets where it is not supposed to be, the only way to remove it is ‘mechanical removal’ – just some fancy words for having to remove it with great difficulty with a scraper.
We have some experience with Fix 15 and managed to seal all the deck fittings and hatches without getting it where it was not supposed to be and then repainted the areas. And so we naively thought that we were now ahead of the maintenance curve (with the deck fittings at least) and that would be the end of water leaks.
We finished resealing the deck fittings about 3 weeks ago and Peter went off to New Zealand for 2 weeks to finally meet his granddaughter.
The weather in New South Wales has been terrible for the past few days with a month’s rain falling in the space of a few days and the first chance we got to get back on the boat after the rains was on Sunday. Peter went out on his own, opened the boat and looked around and everything seemed dry. He shone a torch in all the dark hard to reach places and everything looked great, not a drop of water. As a last check he opened the engine bay to look in the bilge and…….yip, you guessed it, the bilge was full of water! Lots of it! He may have uttered a word or two that cannot be repeated.
A quick taste test revealed that it was fresh water which meant that we had another leak on the deck somewhere – but where? As he was poking around in the engine bay to try and find the source, a drop of water landed on his head. The leak was in the cockpit. The wheel housing is bolted to the cockpit floor but there is a fairly large hole under the wheel housing into the engine bay to accommodate the autopilot.
The sealant around the housing had failed – by the looks of it some time ago – and with the heavy rains and the open cockpit, the water had built up in the cockpit and drained through the failed sealant into the bilge. So much for getting ahead of the maintenance curve. We had hoped to finish the head this week – that is a story for another post – but this week will be spent replacing the sealant around the housing. Once the sealant has been replaced the cockpit will have to be repainted.
The only upside in all of this is that it failed now and not while we were out in the middle of the ocean.
We’re trying really hard to get the boat ready to sail north when the weather window opens but the boat is being very uncooperative at this point. We will however persevere!
It was Martin Luther King Jr. who famously said “I have a dream.” We have one too.