Time to Wipe her Bottom
By the time you read this, we have already left Brest and sailed some significant distance south to Lisbon, but there were a number of final projects that needed to be completed before our departure, designed to help us on our way and also for the long term kitting out of the boat for our sailing years ahead.
1) The stowing of our Whisker Pole on the front of the mast.
Though our Whisker Pole is made of carbon fibre and quite light, it is also 5.45m long and takes a little handling in less smooth conditions. Its purpose is to push out the bottom of the genoa sail in light winds when the wind is from behind us.
For ease of use, it is best to keep one end attached to the mast and hanging from a runner, so that the bottom can be attached to the genoa line, lowered down and fixed into place – see photos for details.
The problem was that the jib sheet (the rope that is attached to the self-tacking jib) wants to occupy the same space as the whisker pole on the front of the mast, hence the two are incompatible.
The design requirement was therefore to extend the jib sheet position from the mast and to avoid the whisker pole.
Our solar panel arch constructor and Iroise Rigging came up with a simple design to allow compatibility and for us to have everything in the mast, out of the way.
2) Ultrasonic Anti Fouling
As the boat sits is salty water, every animal thinks this item of plastic (our luxury sailboat) is a suitable location for the construction of their own new luxury home. So, there is a battle between boat owner and the squatters, with no legal rights, for every square centimetre of disputed land.
Boat owners have a number of options that include the yearly application of “anti-fouling” paint. This product is costly in itself and requires the boat to be additionally moved out of the water. It is basically toxic to marine life so it stops the squatters setting up shop.
Some are less toxic than others and therefore less effective and more environmentally friendly. Such was the product applied for us in the Netherlands as their law forbids the use of the more toxic forms.
A complement to this process is the installation of Ultra Sonic Transducers on the inside of the hull. These transducers send pulses of ultrasonic sound through the hull and simply create an unfriendly environment for algae (the first of the squatters) from setting up home and attracting other rowdier seaweeds, barnacles and form of marine life.
There are a number of suppliers for this type of product in the market with different degrees of success, depending on which brochures and articles you read. As the effect is not immediate, then the efficacity is in doubt and there is much discussion if it works or not. In the end we opted for “Sonihull Ultrasonic Antifouling”. It was reputed to be the quietist and least disturbing to the human population and most disturbing to the marine population as it cycles through a number of different frequencies.
Installation required the usual need to remove all internal floorboards and squeeze myself into the smallest spaces to attach the transducers and link them up with the necessary wiring back to the main control box.
Once installed, I confirm it is quiet as the pulses cannot be heard in the cabins – it runs 24 hours a day and we now just need to wait a year or so to see if marine growth is truly inhibited.
However, I was told that the hull needs to be clean from the start as it will inhibit growth, but is not so good at removing existing growth.
As our boat has been in the water for 10 months, then there would be some growth there, even though we do have environmentally friendly paint in place. In addition, each time I walk past the boat, I see the green weed growing on the water line.
This, therefore brings us to the last main task before our departure from Brest:
3) Bottom Wiping Exercise
To have the boats bottom wiped correctly, it needs to come out of the water. Our Swedish friends on Salsa decided to do this as boat hour, high pressure hose rental for an hour and return to the water was only €125. We helped them do their boat and decided that we should do the same for ours.
We took the boat around to the crane area at our appointed time (suitable tide height) and had the boat lifted out – all 16 tons of her. From the water, she was taken to an area where we could wash and clean her bottom, removing all the weed, algae and shellfish that thought they would never get evicted (we were ruthless). An hour of spraying, scrubbing and scraping successfully removed most of the growth and we were very happy to have made this decision. There was growth around our speedometer, so once this was removed, the sensor began to work again. We also had the opportunity to replace two of the sacrificial zinc anodes that had almost completely been corroded away on the propeller and the propeller shaft.
Returning her to the water and with the arrival of Giuseppe our new Italian crew member we were ready to find the most suitable weather window for our first Biscay Crossing.