Wait? Didn’t we spend 7 months on the hard just last year? Yes we did, but we had a swim ladder to fix and a propeller to replace. The propeller was 33 years old and was very worn and the swim ladder had fallen off on the passage from Mexico to French Polynesia, and we were finally in a place that could do some proper stainless work. We had a really nice 5-day trip from Savasavu to Port Denarau and enjoyed some good company and some really nice inside the reef sailing. Turns out the yard at Port Denarau on the west coast of the “mainland” Viti Levu is quite nice. We've been in 4 different yards now and Port Denarau was by far our favorite. It is small, paved, has super clean facilities, and a shopping mall with good restaurants and a Hot Bread Bakery. The haul out on the 7th of September went smoothly even through we had to back into the slipway. Backing up a sailboat is always fun and exciting. Soon enough we were in the cozy little paved boatyard and the local workers invited us to tea the next day.
The propeller replacement was the critical path item for us for timing because we had to wait at least 2 weeks to receive the custom machined propeller. This meant we had a couple weeks to tend to some quality of life upgrades while we had access to skilled tradespeople and 3 honest to goodness chandleries within a couple hundred meters of the boat. Here’s what the lists looked like:
Stuff that we could do:
Front Head Waste Hose - it was smelly
Coral scrapes on the rudder, skeg, and keel
New Waste Pump
New Fresh Water Pump
Cap Rail repairs
Windvane Mounts fixed
Galley Sink drains
Generator Motor - needed to be hooked up to fuel lines and recommissioned
Stove Stabilizer - sometimes you just don’t need a gimbaled stove, especially when you open the oven door when there are hot pots on top
Adjust the mast rake and modify the furler
Polish the topsides
Give the bottom a scrub
Service and lap the 10 seacocks - so that we retain our ability to not sink
Stuff we had done:
Bimini Cover improvements
Sail Bag repairs
Stainless Plates to protect the deck from the anchor and chain
Rudder Shaft Packing and Gland sorting
Exhaust Box leaks
Generator - changed from 230v to 115v
Bits of finish carpentry
Get an Insurance Survey done
Custom emergency tiller for the wind vane
The propeller project was super smooth and we ran into no glitches other than the technician at the distributor getting injured and delaying the work a few days. Since we had a couple weeks, we decided to order a bunch of stuff from the US and have it shipped by Fiji Freight who specialize in shipping stuff to Fiji. The stainless fabrication team showed up the second day and we reviewed our requirements and they got right to work. After a quick chat with the local sail loft folks, we pulled down the bimini cover and sailboat and walked it across the yard to the loft. Next up was the generator.
Our generator is as old as the boat and the prior owners didn’t know when it had last been run and they had made sure of it by removing the fuel lines and cutting the wires from the alternator to the boat’s wiring. Because, why not? Hooking up the fuel lines was a dawdle. Since the motor hadn’t been run in years, new fuel filters, a new oil filter, and an oil change were in order. The local do everything shop pointed me to Filter Supplies to get the filters. Google Maps said it was only 10 miles away, so I got out my trusty Brompton folding bicycle and off I went. The area around Nadi where we were has pretty good bike lanes that are separated from traffic even. The people at Filter Supplies helped me find the right filters and some oil and off I went back to the boat. A little while and some filter and oil changes later, we pushed the start button and the generator motor awoke from its hibernation and fired right up. After a few minutes, one might even had said it was purring. With that good news in hand it was time to find out if the alternator still produced electricity and how to convert it from 230 volts to 115 volts. With the help of Ravi from Revmarine, we figured out that yes, it still produced electricity and better yet, how to convert it from 230 to 115. Result! Now we can charge out batteries even when the tropical sun isn’t shining which happens surprisingly often.
When the propeller shipment got delayed, we decided to go sightseeing, which you can read about in another post.
We got back in the water on Wednesday the 27th, just under 3 weeks after we hauled out. The boat is quieter in many ways vibrates less, looks better, sails better, and is just nicer to be on than it ever has. We’re so glad we took advantage of the time on the hard to tackle all those little and important tasks and projects.