Procrastinated Decisions

June 20, 2018

    The easiest thing to do regarding difficult decisions is to just put off making them.

     Procrastination can be a beautiful thing.  Only problem is, by definition, it leaves those decisions unresolved.  And there comes a time when, instead of being conveniently satisfying, it becomes a nagging thorn that eventually must be dealt with before things begin to fester.

     Our hard choices revolved around things that we thought needed to be sorted out with the boat.  Prudent (and prideful) boat owners generally need to do a haul out on their boat at least once a year… so we’re told. 

     This involves having the boat lifted out of the water by means of a massive lift and put on stands in a marina.  Though many tasks can be done afloat, there are some things that mandate (or at the least greatly simplify) that the boat be dry.  More thorough inspections as well as certain maintenance issues of the underside and/or hull are much more feasible.  In addition, annual painting of the underside with an anti-fouling paint is required to help prevent barnacle buildup (every so often this paint needs to be sanded off before more can be put on).            

     Some very creative, very poor, very brave, or very foolish boat owners will insist that alternative options exist, but a haul out was what we had decided on.

     Our underside was still in fair condition; however, it had been nearly a year since we had applied the last coat of anti-fouling (just before we first launched Exit in Deale, MD).

     We also had a prop issue that needed immediate resolution.  The zinc* which had been attached with our new Maxprop last August (also just before we first launched Exit) had become nearly deteriorated after six months.  Thankfully, we had a couple of spares aboard. 

*The Readers Digest “A to Zinc” Overview On Prop Corrosion 

     Dissimilar metals can pose problems for each other.  In a nutshell, one type of metal will actually steal electrons from another, causing it to corrode.

     There are tables, the result of science well beyond my capacity, indicating the nobility of various metals and alloys.  Nobility is basically a pecking order.  The more noble a metal is, the less susceptible it is to corrosion and more voraciously it feeds on other less noble metals.

     Salt water (an electrical conductor) exasperates this process.

     Our prop is made of bronze which has a low nobility.

     Our boat is made of aluminum which is almost at the bottom of the nobility list (a potential issue we have to be constantly aware of).

     The solution is to attach an even less noble metal, called a sacrificial anode, which is consumed by the process instead.  Magnesium (in fresh water) or zinc (in salt water) are the alloys typically utilized for the anodes.  The zincs must be checked and replaced periodically to assure the corrosion protection is maintained.  

     Obviously, having the zincs fall off your boat is not very conducive to the success of the entire corrosion protection process.

     Anyway, in March while at anchor in West Bay on New Providence, I had donned scuba gear and switched out the zinc, which was a rather straightforward endeavor.  

The old vs. the new

     Unfortunately, when we arrived in the Bahamas, we discovered that the zinc had disappeared… 


     We came to the conclusion that it actually may have fallen off only three weeks after it had been put on while we motored for six hours from Nassau to Rose Island.  Probably the result of bolts not being cinched down tight enough… 


     We had one more prop zinc in our spares inventory which we installed while in Georgetown.  This time I opted to use locking washers and Loktite on the screw threads.

     However, we discovered soon after that the zinc immediately began to deteriorate around the screw holes.  By the time we had reached Charleston, SC five weeks later, our third prop zinc was gone.

     This meant our prop zinc situation was back to critical, and in need of immediate resolution.

     We also had ongoing chain issues that needed resolution sooner than later.  

     Old, tired, and rusty, the decrepit chain left piles of quickly staining rust flakes all over the deck every time the anchor was lowered or raised.  It occasionally seized up in the hawse pipe when rusty links stuck together in the chain locker (jeopardizing damage to an expensive electric windlass).  It jumped and skipped on the gypsy under any load when let out or brought in (jeopardizing the removal of fingers very dear to me) – either it was the wrong size or just excessively worn.  And, there just wasn’t enough of it.  We had one hundred thirty feet and really needed twice that.

     Yes, the chain could be sorted out without a haul out.  But, if we are already out of the water, getting chain off and on the boat while on stands might prove much easier than getting it aboard with Exit in the water.

     The only other haul out issue was being able to replace a through-hull whose handle had broken off in a stuck open position. 

      Yes, again.  The through-hull could be dealt with in the water, but it would be a lot less messy if it were dry than just had a towel stuck in the hole.

     The handful of other things on the to-do list… a proper inspection of all our rigging… resuscitating the dream of an onboard watermaker… battery bank replacement… all things that could be chipped away at without requiring a haul out of the boat.

     Rocky’s boatyard was an option if we wanted to haul out.  It was cheap and friendly.  Except we weren’t in close proximity to anything.  We didn’t have chain lined up.  The long anticipated revival of the existing watermaker, the primary task we were hoping Tom could help us out with, looked like it was never going to be possible, after all.

     Both the boatyard and Tom had lots of other things going on.  The timing was not ideal.

     Holding off on the haul out until late summer after sailing farther north to New York or even Maine (especially if we could sort out the prop zinc quickly) had a definite appeal to it.  Herrington Harbor North, where Exit had sat on the hard in Deale, MD, was well equipped with on-site resources and no more expensive than St. Marys.

     We had all but written off a quick July trip back to our old stomping grounds in Washington state.  Already told my folks we just didn’t see it happening.  If Exit was on the hard here in Georgia, that was one thing.  

     But… leaving her at anchor?  For over two weeks?

     My parents’ sixtieth wedding anniversary, on July 3rd, was the tipping factor.  The opportunity to be present for that amazing celebration, see my best friend Shannan for his 52nd birthday, as well as visit with other friends and family, made the decision much easier.

     We were at anchor about a thousand feet upriver from Tom’s sailboat, and he agreed to take an occasional peek to make sure Exit hadn’t floated away… no worries, mate.


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