The 12 Mile Journey

It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times….as the story goes.  We are safely tucked behind the near impenetrable boarders of New Zealand from any outsiders.  Unless you are bringing big dollars to the economy like the America’s Cup Yacht race et al.  We have weathered the various lockdown levels from 4 to 1 and are not the worst for wear.  Last February and early March just before the holy lockdown happened, we were perched above the ground at Harbourside Yacht Works.  Dazzler’s bottom had two shiny new coats of Sea Zone 60 bottom paint.  And we were finishing up with giving Sparkle, our tender, a new paint job as well.  We completed a few other hard stand projects before launching back into the water. 

Purchased at Wynn Fraser Paints

Once in the water and a few days prior to New Zealand’s borders slamming shut into level 4 lockdown we docked at Whangarei Marina where we planned to wait out the world pandemic crisis.  Normally we would have departed the chilly climate of New Zealand in April for the warmer waters in the tropical islands of Fiji.  This year added a higher degree of difficulty to our plans to say the least.  

The beginning of August, I noticed that Dazzler’s bottom paint just below the water line was starting to look a bit shaded with marine slime coating.  It had been just over four months since we dropped her in the water and it was getting time to think about giving her underside a bit of a cleaning.  August is about as the middle of winter as you can get here in New Zealand.  I wasn’t looking forward to jumping into the water for any reason.  So, I started to research the possibility of having Dazzler lifted out of the water and get a light pressure wash done on her underside.  

After several days of yard and lift shopping we settled on the hydraulic trailer lift at Marsden Cove Marina.  We made an appointment for the 19th of August for a haul, wash and splash.  

As you can see, after four months there was very little slime coat on Dazzler’s bottom.

Any plans to leave the Whangarei Marina should be coordinated with Mother Nature and her tides.  Marsden Cove Marina is approximately 11 miles down river near the river’s mouth which  is about two hours one way.  Allowing two to three hours for the haul, wash and splash would mean that we would be at low tide and would have difficulty getting back into our slip.  Thus we decided to stay the night at a dock in Marsden Cove Marina and head up river the next day at or near high tide.

When the 19th arrived we were out of the slip on time, but we didn’t plan to make Hatea River bridge opening and we had to wait until 0830 hours for the bridge operator to open the bridge.  Because we were a little behind schedule we called Marsden Cove Marina to let them know we’d be about 30 minutes late.  

Once we arrived and after tying up to the haul out dock, the yard crew lowered their new looking hydraulic trailer under Dazzler.  The trailer had a gap between its left and right sides with beefy sets of dual tires along each rail.  The hydraulic operator handled the trailer’s equipment like a highly trained surgeon.  The trailer’s hydraulic pads were raised one by one until they gently made contact with Dazzler’s hull.  Before we knew it Dazzler was being leveled on the trailer and pulled out of the water.  I have to say of all the different times she has been pulled out of the water this time caused the least amount of stress.  

The crew pulled Dazzler across the road and into the wash bay where they used a pressure washer to spray off what is know as the slime coating that builds on the surface of the paint.  There were no barnacles or other larger marine organisms attached to her bottom.  The operator had the pressure turned down so low that there was almost no leaching of the paint off of Dazzler’s bottom.  There were four hydraulic pads along each side of her hull.  The hydraulic operator put braces under Dazzler’s keel and lowered one pad at a time to allow the spray operator access to clean under the contact points of her hull.  

After all the spraying had been completed, I removed the old shaft zinc and attached a new one.  Less than an hour later she was ready to be moved back down to the water and launched.  We walked alongside like we were line tenders of a Macy’s balloon walking down 5th Avenue.  Once in the water again and tied to the haul out dock it was all over except for paying the bill.  Off to the office we went.  About $300.00 NZD (@$195.00 USD) later we were done.  We stopped at the cafe for a bite to eat and then back to Dazzler to move her to her dock across the channel for the night.  Some good friends Deb and Phil Perfitt of the vessel Coastal Drifter were boat watching in the marina and treated us to a nice dinner and companionship.  Great way to finish off a productive day.

The next morning early we were untied and heading up river back to Whangarei Marina.  All is  well that ends well. 

Just a side note:  Sea~Zone 60 self polishing ablative bottom paint by Altex.  Wow!  Last season when we arrived in New Zealand we needed to re-paint Dazzler’s bottom.  We settled on Sea~Zone 60 for our new paint.  We also had to apply a primer coat to insure chemical bond to the older sanded hard Trinidad paint.  During the cruising season of 2019, we cruised the waters of Tonga and Fiji for almost six months.  During which we had to give Dazzler’s bottom a wipe down twice to remove the slime coat.  The self polishing properties of Sea~Zone 60 paint seemed to work as advertised.  I was impressed as to how clean the bottom stayed during our travels.  

Last January when we hauled Dazzler out prior to our USA trip, we found the condition of the bottom paint to be in very good condition with no visible barnacles.  Impressive!  There were a few thinned areas but over all in good condition.  

Once we returned from the states, we decided to add two additional coats of Sea~Zone 60 to cover up the few thinned areas.  The paint is easy to apply, easy to maintain and appears to hold up well against various marine organisms just as advertised.  

I would like to see the paint durability a bit more substantial to maybe get two years of use before re-coating.  But it’s ability to fend off marine organisms is very good.  The only down side to Sea~Zone 60 appears to be its retail price.  We will probably add two more coats next March in preparation of departure back into the sailing lifestyle. 


Captain Dan

P.S.  We both were very impressed with the ease, operation and the skill of the Marsden Cove Haul out crew.  Sending a special thanks out to Mark, Remi and Adam for a job well done! We highly recommend their services. It would be well worth your time and money in our humble opinion.

Here’s a short video of the haul out. Enjoy!

Author: Dan & Jilly

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