This post is being written from Alice Springs, where we have just completed our quarantine. It will be the last in our build blogs series.
As of writing, I’m calling her “finished”, meaning all the the jobs on our to-do list are done. However, anyone who owns a boat knows they are a constant work in progress. Already we have plans for modifications when we return…
and the cockpit covers are yet to be fitted, so I guess it never ends!
Thank you to those who have followed our journey over the past four years. Your encouraging comments have lifted us, and helped to give us a sense of community. Building a large boat, can be an isolating experience.
Just a quick update: In our last blog, Everything Has Changed, I wrote of our last voyage on Selah before laying her up for the duration of the COVID-19 travel restrictions. At that time, I was still harbouring some doubts about our decision. Since then, COVID-19 restrictions have essentially shut down recreational boating. Details vary between states, but the two-week quarantine rule, applied whenever you move your boat, has made it logistically difficult for live-aboards. Most of the community I have contact with have resigned themselves to sitting it out, where-ever they currently moored. As far as I have been able to ascertain, interstate voyaging has stopped other than mavericks and a few stragglers, returning to their home ports.
Our flight home was surreal. Walking through deserted Tullamarine felt like a scene out of a science fiction movie. However, the experience did reinforce to us the importance of staying at home. Living aboard the boat, we were able to self-isolate quite easily. However, maintaining social distancing is very difficult when traveling. We were surrounded by people returning from overseas. We Aussies love to travel, but right now, traveling is a risky business.
Thankfully, after two weeks quarantine, both Deb and I are not exhibiting any signs of infection.
In the big picture, we are conscious there are others far more deeply affected than us. We are with family, have somewhere safe to live and food on the table. We are looking forward to spending time with our grandchildren. Hopefully I will get a chance to replenish the cruising fund. Selah is safe and waiting for us, under the watchful eye of family and friends in the live-aboard community at the marina.
So now, I return to the building of Selah. This post covers the time period late December to March 27, and includes last minute jobs we completed at the marina in Launceston, before flying home.
A benefit of joining the Mersey Yacht Club, is access to a very inexpensive haul-out yard. So, even though we had only been in the water for a month, we decided to put her on the hard to finish the last of the jobs that needed to be done to make her seaworthy. This included weaving the trampolines, fitting the internal ceiling insulation and liners, hooking up the VHF radio and completing the house and navigation lighting. The main reason however, was to take the motors off to have their 20 hour service completed by a Yamaha dealer, which is necessary to validate the four year warrantee. The nearest dealer was in Somerset, 90k from Devonport. They were unwilling to travel so we had to transport them to their workshop.
First on the list was the trampolines. Our friend Peter Newman who keeps a modified Simpson on the river, had suggested a method of fitting the trampolines that we liked. He came up with it after his netting gave way unexpectedly, and almost dumped him into Bass Strait.
Another job on the list was raising the waterline at the bows. This is not an uncommon alteration for boats moored in the river, especially cats as they are sensitive to fore-aft trim. Due to the strong currents (up to five knots) and limited swing room, mooring lines are oversize, and have a short scope. This can pull the bows down, and set up a bow-wave. I shot a new waterline from midships, and lifted the antifoul at the bows by 50mm.
While we were on the hard our saloon cushions arrived. This was a bonus as we did not have to transport the bulky items by dingy.
Upon re-launching, we were approached by the yacht club to display Selah at their annual open day event. We were happy to oblige, as they had been so helpful and welcoming. So instead of returning to the mooring, we tied up onto our allotted space on the yacht club pontoon. We hosted around 40 groups throughout the course of the day, one of which offered to buy her!
After the open day we moved back to our mooring. Next on the agenda was fitting winches and the various blocks for sail control. All deck fittings need to have backing plates fixed below the decks. These are coated in epoxy along with the mounting holes. So once again out came the epoxy, gloves and mixing cups.
Before we could bend on the sails I needed to set up the lazy jack lines. This involved a trip up the mast, but thankfully only as far as the spreaders.
Once the deck gear was installed, sails bent on, and control lines set-up we slipped the mooring and took her out for her first and so-far only, sail. The first job was to check the sails fitted, and the various control lines worked freely. The sails were cut to my dimensions, so there was an element of doubt. Did I get the measurements right? The jibs still had room to tension the halyards, but I was dismayed to see the mainsail would not tension tight. I noticed however, that there was still plenty of space on the mast. A quick call to our sailmaker solved the problem. The halyard was terminated with a bulky eye-splice and long shackle. The mainsail was cut with 200mm stretch allowance. Gary suggested removing the spice & shackle, and using a bowline knot instead. Problem solved. I didn’t have time to start tweaking the lines to eliminate wrinkles, but I was pleased with how the sails set on a first try.
My main impression was how easy the sails are to manage. The three sail configuration means that no one sail is overly big. The largest is the genoa, which is on a furler. Personally, I’m not a fan of the fractional rig, so prevalent on modern production catamarans. Frankly, those huge roached mainsails scare me as it seems they would require very careful handling if caught in a squall.
I guess now is the time to write about her sailing performance. The Sarah design, in her standard sail configuration, is a moderate displacement, moderately rigged boat. On our test sail, with a residual chop in 8 to 12 knots of wind, she sat on half wind speed on a shy reach without any tweaking. This was encouraging. I expect to be able to improve those speeds over time. She was close to our cruising weight, having moved aboard some time ago. Our water and fuel tanks were full. With my passage planning, I have been told to plan for an average of 5 knots, but in reality should achieve an average of around 6 knots, over a long passage. There are a lot of variables though. I do not, at this stage have a kite or screecher. Upgrades that may be necessary to make the most of lighter downwind conditions, and avoid running engines.
Another job completed was the installation of our table. We have elected to mount it on a pedestal so that it can be lowered to form a third double bunk. So far we are happy with it, but I suspect we may need to mount a second pedestal in the future. But for now, we are pleased to be eating on a table instead of our knees!
Not shown in any photographs are the ceiling liners. These were cut from 3mm ply, finished in high gloss. We purchased the sheets, pre-finished from Laminex Industries, through Russell’s trade connections. Each needed to be templated, using the joggle stick method. We also installed lambswool insulation in the cavity space, in the sleeping cabins and forepeaks. This dramatically improved temperature control and eliminated condensation, so we were pleased we went to the effort. It goes without saying, any overhead jobs are a pain, and we were very, very pleased when the job was completed.
When we got to Launceston we still had a few jobs to do, to prepare Selah for her hibernation. Top of the list was to fit the shades we had previously sewn, but still needed stainless steel press studs to be fitted. I did a ring around and arranged to visit Foamland, where I could purchase the studs, and they would allow me to use their mounting tool to fit the studs to the cloth. I used 10mm stud screws, bedded in roof and guttering silicone, to fit them onto the windows. $70 all up including hire of the tool, for 60 studs.
A job I had been postponing for some time, was fitting the locking handles onto the forward opening turret windows. There are no second chances with this job. Get it wrong, and the whole window would need to be replaced. It involves drilling a large 15mm hole through the window, to mount the locking handles, then fitting some clamping blocks. Sounds simple enough, but the first time I attempted to do this job (on a test piece of perspex) I was dismayed to see the edges of the hole would chip away during the drilling process. So the job went into the too hard basket, and I went onto other things. Its marvellous what a little experience can do. I have since learned a method of drilling large holes in difficult materials. I raided my drill set and gathered together every drill diameter from 3mm up to the 15mm final drill. After carefully locating the correct position with a template, I started with the small pilot hole, then gradually worked my way up, 1mm at a time, to the large drill. It worked perfectly and was stress-free. Having drilled the holes, I cut some nylon locking blocks and mounted them with M5 x 25mm SS threads that I drilled and tapped to the window frame.
With more time I would have refined the clamp blocks a little better, as they are visible in the main saloon. But, that job can wait until I get back when I will take them off and chamfer the edges.
We still had a list of jobs and we were due to fly out at 6:30 am the next day, so I was relieved the whole job was finished by lunchtime, and there were no unexpected hiccups. Structurally, Selah was now complete. She could be locked up and buttoned-down, ready for her long COVID-19 hibernation.
After lunch, we removed all the sails. It was sad, given we had only just fitted them, but at least we know they are good to go, when we return.
Our friend Josh, offered to help, which we appreciated. We had the job done in about half an hour. I also removed the boom bag and rolled up the furling lines, storing them all below. I wasn’t sure what to do with the battens, the longest being over 3 metres long, until I realised I could slide them into the boom.
Josh is going to keep an eye on Selah, and also run the outboards every few weeks. We spent half an hour, orienting him on the boat, and her systems. I had previously rung our Yamaha dealer, asking his recommendations for long term storage of our engines. His advice was to keep them on the boat and run them from time to time to keep the battery charged, and the impellers from drying. He also advised treating the fuel with an additive, to extend the shelf life.
The remainder of the day was spent tidying up and attending some other small jobs, preparing her for her long hibernation.
Well thats it for now folks. The end of our building adventure.
During the long months ahead I’ll fill in the time with a few more posts, reflecting on or experiences during the build. Perhaps a few tip & tricks for those interested in the build process.
Until then, stay safe, God bless you and keep you, until we meet again.
Pete & Deb.