October slipped away from us and we hardly noticed as we spent the entire month on the hard. A friend had recently told me, “Oh you know you love boat projects,” which I of course wholeheartedly denied. However, when the opportunity presents itself there is no avoiding the need to maintain a boat no matter the location. Besides, a nice project would distract us from the solid fact that winter was fast approaching for which we had no definitive plans!
Through word-of-mouth recommendations we’d landed ourselves in the northwestern region of the Netherlands, Friesland, at the town of Makkum. Through our experience, Makkum became Deltaville of the Netherlands. Town itself was lovely; tidy brick houses, adorned with hand-painted ceramics lined the narrow, brick streets. Shops and cozy restaurants filled the central square. Canals segmented town; a lift-bridge here, a lock there, masts from docked boats towering behind house roofs. The harbour was always changing with the comings and goings of fishing boats and pleasure boats. Beyond town a pleasant landscape of green fields with smaller villages tucked beneath patches of trees; a windmill here, a canal there, sheep and cows grazing everywhere between. Makkum had charm. The people of Makkum were fabulously friendly. Best of all, Makkum had everything that a boater could need to complete any project.
We relied on the assistance of Chuck, an experienced welder and all ’round technician who is well connected within the boating industry and knows aluminum. Chuck sent us straight-away to Seabell Jachthaven where we were soon acquainted with Rob as we made plans to haul Detour and get to working. Seabell was very accommodating; we were able to stay aboard throughout the work even though our home became a bit like open-tent camping. While on the hard, none of our water-reliant systems are usable (fridge, kitchen sinks, TOILET!) so there were many trips made to/from Seabell’s bathrooms. Thank goodness for the HOT showers, because it was also getting a bit chilly up on the hard as temperatures dropped into the 40’s and we had a nice, big, drafty hole in the center of our cabin! Often, we’d play a round of fetch with Rob’s excitable dog, Charlie. Afterwards Charlie would sit patiently below Detour at the base of the ladder and await our attention once more. Brian was busy, I was assisting as best I could, and Chuck was on site nearly daily and we made fast progress.
It seemed the centerboard had lacked our attention; dropping it in France would have been nearly impossible due to the language barriers we’d encountered at the yard at that time. We knew the lines needed replaced, but were very curious to learn the board’s overall condition. Rob and Chuck positioned the stands supporting Detour, then very delicately Rob raised the bow several inches higher than the stern to allow the centerboard to fall. The centerboard didn’t fall, in fact it involved quite a bit of pounding on Chuck’s behalf to get it out! Chuck had several opportunities during his working with us to demonstrate his mastery of a sledgehammer; this earned him the nickname, Thor. Once the centerboard was out, a nice open hole through the centerboard trunk kept the air flowing freely through Detour (we did cover and attempt to insulate the centerboard trunk as best we could during construction mode).
The centerboard was relocated to Chuck’s shop so that it could be tended indoors. Meanwhile, the centerboard trunk was scraped clean of barnacles and sanded. The centerboard trunk was primed and finally coated with anti-fouling. This part of the project was my responsibility. I learned through various maneuvers and stretches from both inside and outside of the trunk that not only could all spaces actually be reached but that my head fit nicely into the bottom-side, forward most section of the trunk. The centerboard was scraped and sanded also, in many areas down to bare aluminum. Chuck replaced a badly corroded aluminum stopper-piece on the forward, top of the board. Then the centerboard was primed and filled. The process sounds so simple but it took days of waiting between several coats of primer, waiting for fill to dry, sanding afterward, and priming once again until finally anti-fouling was applied and the board was ready to be reinstalled. Thanks to Lars our in-house expert at Niemarkt Jachtshilders for supplying paint, fill, and miscellaneous painting materials throughout our project. Lars and his team do exceptional work and we appreciated his taking time for our little projects.
The centerboard was reinstalled. This time there was no need for a sledgehammer, but a tremendous amount of grease was applied to the support posts so that next time it comes in and out a bit more easily. After the centerboard was reinstalled, the very bottom of the board’s edge required primer and anti-fouling since it had been the edge the board rested on while at the shop. The centerboard project was the main event, but Brian took it upon himself to touch up a few other details while he had supplies at the ready. On Detour‘s topsides, Brian removed several scratches, nicks, and dents that had been acquired in France’s lovely locks. Thor helped with one dent in particular, and that one required Brian to fill and reshape on the exterior. On Detour‘s swim platform, Thor reshaped a disfigured anchor roller (been that way since we’d purchased the boat). There was quite a bit of paint bubbling and chipping around a stainless rub-plate on the swim platform; it’s a rub-plate that the ladder rests on when the ladder is down into the water. This little area gave everybody a bit of work and cost us quite a bit of time. The stainless rub-plate was removed and Brian sanded beneath to bare aluminum. Chuck welded closed holes in the aluminum where the rub-plate had been screwed in place. Chuck also welded closed holes in the stainless plate. Brian primed the areas beneath the rub-plate and around the anchor roller. Lars did a rough fill on these areas. Brian sanded the rough fill, and then added a finishing fill. Finally, the anchor roller and swim platform rub-plate areas were primed and painted. Brian then glued the stainless rub-plate into place once again using Sikaflex; this isolates the aluminum from the stainless. The anchor roller actually rolls!Detour‘s hull was coated with anti-fouling. That snazzy, midnight blue is a custom color thanks to Lars! And just like that, three-weeks after we’d been hauled, Detour was back in the cradle on her way into the water. As for that fast approaching winter…still deciding on that!