Well, We recently threw out the lifeline to a complete stranger. Jilly was up doing laundry when she contacted me and asked if I was interested in helping someone move their boat from Parua Bay to Harbourside Boatworks. We weren’t doing anything else at the time. So, I expressed my interest in helping out. The next thing you know, we are getting into a two meter tender and rowing out into Parua Bay to the transom of 52’ Tayana sailboat, SV Seaplusplus, to help Rachael Cravens move it up the Hatea River to Harbourside. It’s Dazzler Team to the Rescue!
Once aboard Rachael’s boat we prepared for the 10 nautical mile journey to Harbourside Boatworks just east of Kissing Point in Whangarei. Lines check. Motor…..motor….well thankfully our new friend Rachael pulled out a battery booster and got the engine fired up. The days leading up to our arrival she had tried to clean the growth from the propeller. Because I hadn’t seen the bottom I had no idea as to it’s condition.
With the engine firing on all cylinders, we slipped the mooring line off the bow. Rachael pushed the transmission into forward gear and we were off. Rachael had arranged for a friend with a powerboat to assist us with crossing the shallows of the bay because she did not have a working chart plotter or depth sounder. And, of course, he would be there to provide a tow if needed.
The Black Smoke
We powered up the throttle and started toward the exit channel of the bay. It wasn’t but a few minutes later that the cabin space below was filling with exhaust fumes. I took a deep breath and went below to open the forward hatch to allow fresh air to flow through the cabin. A few minutes later I was able to go back down below safely. Using a laser heat gauge I checked the engine in several places for temperature. Water was flowing through the engine but it was still getting hot. I suggested we lower the RPMs of the engine to take any load off the motor. The temperature started lowering immediately.
Now our forward motion was around 1.5-2.5 knots. At this speed we would not get to Harbourside Boatworks for a high tide haul out. We contacted Rachael’s friend and formulated a plan for him to tow us up the river. We were now making about 4-5 knots and our arrival would be just in time to be hauled out. Harbourside Boatworks uses a trailer with a cradle mounted on it that is lowered into the water in a way to allow a vessel to easily maneuver between the cradle side arms.
Just prior to entering the bay near the yard we slipped our tow ropes and started toward the cradle. After about fifteen more minutes we were on the cradle and being secured by the yard crew. We all exited the boat and went to shore to watch Rachael’s boat be pulled out of the water.
We Brought The Reef With Us
As it gradually raised out of the sea it became very apparent why we could not make any forward way. The bottom was completely covered with 1-2 meter long Mediterranean Fan Worms, oysters, barnacles and other marine growth. In fact it looked like the sea may have lowered from the displacement that had been removed from Rachael’s boat/reef that had just been pulled from the water. I think global warming took a small setback as her bottom looks to have removed a small floating reef and home to many organisms that had attached themselves to her hull. Dozens of crabs and other sea creatures fell to the ground below and began making their way back to the water. I actually think the sea level may have dropped an inch or two.
Rachael had explained to us that her and her partner Ian had bought the Tayana in early 2020 with plans of starting a refit in April 2020. Well, we all know what happened then. Global virus shutdown. It affected all of us. Rachael and her partner live in Australia and she was not able to return to New Zealand until now to start their refit projects.
Let The Refit Begin
Once it the yard, Rachael’s plans were to have the mast pulled, rerig the standing and running rigging, remove, inspect and replace the chainplates if needed, paint the bottom and get her ready to sail to Australia for continued refit. Rachel was allowed to enter New Zealand because she is an NZ resident. Her partner, Ian, is an Australian resident and the trans Tasman bubble is closed for now. The Tayana’s bones are sound but several years of neglect from the previous owners have to be dealt with before she can sail to Australia.
Maybe I’m a sucker for wanting to help. Perhaps I can’t help myself from wanting to help others. Who really knows for sure? One thing for certain is that we threw out the lifeline. Rachel had been in the yard for about a week. We met with her one afternoon and she was almost in tears. She is a strong woman with determination. That being said, Jilly and I could both see that she was struggling regarding the vast number of boat projects and overwhelming amount of tasks she has taken on.
After leaving her we could tell that having someone to talk with regarding her tasks helped ease her anxiety a bit so Jilly and I both decided that I could afford to spend a day with Rachel to help her organize and prioritize her projects. Not to mention providing a few helping hands with appropriate tools and knowledge.
Rachael gladly accepted our invitation for my assistance. I carefully walked a fine line of not wanting to take over, but rather provide some guidance to her huge undertaking. We discussed the visible mast, bottom and chainplate issues. We also discussed a plan of attack to help prioritize all of her necessary projects.
Let’s Get Started
First up on the list was removing the chainplates. Chainplates are an integral part of a sailboat’s hardware. They act as an anchor point for the shrouds and stays to attach and hold the mast to the boat. Without sound and properly maintained chainplates, a vessel could become dismasted. Not to mention improper installation would allow water ingress into the boat and thus contaminating and damaging its interior. Rule #1…Keep the boat in the water and the water out of the boat.
One bolt at a time, we removed the chainplate bolts. Boat builders in their infinite wisdom seem to delight in making removable objects very difficult to remove by building things around and over them and thus making boat jobs more difficult than they should be. I guess they really don’t care, because things like chainplates won’t be looked at for several years after the boat has been sold. Needless to say, our one bolt at a time removal worked and we had freed all three port side chainplates.
The next step was to see how difficult they would be to pull up through the deck. Either they will lift through their deck slots with a little persuasion or they will come out with lots of pounding and colorful sailor expletives. Fortunately for us the three port chainplates lifted free with a little assisted lifting force.
Wow! That wasn’t so bad. This is the false hope that is sometimes associated with golf. You know, you can see the flag a few hundred yards away, but you can’t see the sandtrap or that finger of the lake that is lying in wait to snatch your ball and dash your ever hopeful approach shot from reaching the green on your birdie attempt. Counting your chickens before they are hatched also comes to mind.
Wait for it! Here comes the blockade. Switching to the starboard side now. What the hell! What seemed to be a swimming experience has ground to a halt. We discovered that the aft edge of the vanity in the forward head had been built over the chainplate and blocked access to two of the forward chainplate bolts. The bolts of the mid chainplate were accessible and their nuts were removed with ease, however, the bolts themselves required some aggressive beatings with a one kilogram hammer to drive them out of the bulkhead holes. The starboard aft chainplate bolts were easily removed. Except for the two that were buried behind cabinetry. Thank you again to the boat designers and builders.
Much like Dazzler’s interior, Rachael’s boat has what is referred to as a forest of teak. In other words, all of the shelves, cabinets, walls and flooring are mostly made from teak. This style of interior is very warm and beautiful when properly maintained. Before going any further we decided to head up topside to see if we could get that mid chainplate pulled through the deck. Well, it was less cooperative than the port side chainplates.
Yes, the one kilo hammer was engaged to help persuade it upward from down below. After many minutes, the chainplate had finally been beat into submission and removed from its deck slot. The crowd goes wild. Four chainplates removed in less than an eight hour day. Progress! Feeling satisfied of a good day’s work, we decided to call it a day.
Rachael will now wait for a cabinet maker/boat builder to consult her on removing the vanity from the head to access that chainplate as well as the aft starboard chainplate before they can be removed. She will additionally have to get the four chainplates we removed to a metal specialist for X-ray inspection for any small cracks. There is a lot of cleaning and prep work still needed before the chainplates can be re-installed. But for now a very successful start to her projects.
Fast Forward A Few Months
Many weeks and months later, Rachael contacted us to let us know their boat was now ready to get off the hardstand and start floating again. As she asked if we would like to help with the launch, she almost couldn’t finish her request before we jumped at the chance to be there for her. All was going well. Her boat was backed into the water and her and her mechanic were rowed out to the boat. Many minutes later as the tide was starting to fall her engine didn’t want to start. I asked to be rowed out to her boat to help. The Harbourside crew worked rapidly in getting the boat unsecured from the cradle and trailer. Because we were losing our high tide and did not want to be stuck on the trailer, we solicited help from another boater to tow us off the trailer.
The mechanic eventually found a disconnected wire and was able to get the engine started. We were moving smoothly through the water. Rachael looked so happy behind the helm as we motored out into the channel and toward her new slip. Several minutes later we were pulling into the slip and securing her lines. She was floating and safely tied off at the dock. Rachael’s smile said it all!
This my friends is how a village comes together to help each other. Shared skill, knowledge and hands on assistance as needed. At the end of the day we all share in the accomplishments achieved as well as feeling good about helping our friends when they need a little extra helping hand. The boating community is a small but very talented group of individuals and we come together to provide a helping hand when needed. We never know when we will be on the receiving end of assistance so for now we pay it forward.
Additionally, no fingers or toes were smashed, no emergency room visits made and in the end a new good friend was made. We wish Rachael and Ian all the best in their continued boat projects. Until the next boat project on or off of Dazzler, may your weather be mild, your seas manageable and your anchorage calm. Cheers!
P.S. It’s mid January now and Ian has finally made it to New Zealand. No doubt our friend Rachael is one of the happiest women on earth! We can’t wait to meet him!