An Update from the Boatyard (in St Marys, GA)

Happy New Year from the boat yard!

I know it’s been a year for everyone, but I have to say that when I think about where we were one year ago – cold, in the Chesapeake, trying to get our Webasto installed so we could head south and try to sell little Brio – I’m pretty thankful for how the year has gone for us, overall.

Ironically we chose the word “freedom” as our theme for 2020 — the universe had a bit of a laugh at us for that one, with numerous lockdowns and quarantines sprinkled over the months — but boat-wise, selling little Brio and making progress on our lovely list of projects for Brio II has felt like freedom, so there’s that 🙂

We dropped Brio II off at the boat yard here in St Marys in early August, and headed north to escape the heat in Maine and then in BC.

You might think after leaving our boats in tropical locations for extended periods of storage time we’d know a thing or two, but you’d be wrong 😉

Jon came back in October to a boat entirely coated in mold (thank you, leaky decks in hot humid hurricane zones), full of bugs (always bugs), and just generally disgusting.

To make it even more fun, the propane regulator started leaking (so no cooking), the battery charger kicked it (so no power), and the water smelled like rotten eggs (so no water other than what comes in gallon jugs).

Luckily my husband is a saint – and a hardworking one at that – so in the three weeks that he was here alone he scrubbed every surface with bleach and vinegar, got a new battery charger ordered and installed, replaced the propane regulator, and found a better source of water.

He also scraped all the bottom paint off, started the sanding on the bottom (we’re going to do a new epoxy barrier coat), and started the sanding, filling and fairing on the topsides.

I’m tired just typing all this!

We made the most of our extra time in British Columbia!

After three weeks apart, Zephyr and I joined Jon in the boat yard. I’ll admit that we weren’t confident about how boatyard life with a toddler in the middle of a pandemic would go… but it’s actually been great.

The yard is relatively quiet, there’s a 7-year old who lives here and Zephyr absolutely adores, and the weather has mostly been a very pleasant 60-70°F (15-20°C). I can work from the boat while the boys play in the dirt piles around the yard, and then on weekends we switch so Jon can focus on projects.

The topsides are coming along – we’ve done three coats of Alexseal finish primer and three coats of Alexseal Sunfast Red (two-part paint). Unfortunately red is the WORST color for coverage, so it’s going to take at least another 2-3 coats (and trying to find bugless, windless, warm days that I’m not working on is super hard)!

Alexseal Sunfast Red Topside Paint on Sabre 42 Sailboat

But the red is transformative — and somehow Brio II feels like she was always meant to be a red sailboat — so the effort is 100% worth it!

Alexseal Sunfast Red
3rd coat of Sunfast Red going on…

Since painting can only happen on perfect days, we’ve got a litany of other projects started to keep us busy on “down” days.

In my head I’m always going to wait until these projects are done to talk about them, but let’s be real: we start way more projects than we will actually finish any time soon (though they will all get done eventually!!).

So in no particular order, here’s a sampling of the projects we’ve started 😉

Radar Arch

We ordered and have dry-fit a Senior Admiral radar arch from Fish-On Sports. These aluminum arches are similar to the Atlantic Towers “arch in a box” concept, but they’re about $1000 cheaper. We set ours up to have two feet on the stern and two one the side decks, giving us the most arch we can fit which in turn will let us mount 700W of solar.

Rigging

We took the mast down this week, and have now officially begun the slightly-daunting process of converting our rod rig to new wire rigging instead.

We’re doing this for a few reasons — one, wire is cheaper than rod (although the conversion process is costing us in custom bits and bobs); two, by installing high-mod fittings on the wire we can in theory replace rigging on our own in the future; and three, wire rigging is easier to ship / source internationally, so this is a step towards being more off-grid ready.

Honestly it’s one of those projects I’ve been afraid of — just like repowering little Brio or painting topsides were — so I’m mostly staying out of it while Jon does all the heavy lifting (as usual!!). We all have talents — tackling giant scary boat projects just isn’t mine 😉

Other

We’ll call the last category “other” — aka, repairing rotten bulkheads and beefing up the mast step, continuing the rotten deck core saga (is there a theme here?? 😉 ), upgrading lighting to LEDs (I have a special hate for the ugly reading lights on these boats that draw 3.5 amps), installing davits, etc, etc, etc…

We’re still in the “list-growing” stage of this boatyard chapter, so I won’t presume to imagine we have even the slightest idea of what we’ve gotten ourselves into… but if a pandemic isn’t a perfect time to settle in and try to unearth a diamond in the rough, when is?

Wishing you all a very happy 2021!

– LMK

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