This Gravel Parking Lot Looks Vaguely Familiar

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October 13 – November 3, 2018 

     Herrington Harbour North.  

     Never say never.

     We said we’d learned our lesson about being in Maryland in November last year.

     We certainly didn’t envision being back on the hard at Herrington Harbour North.

     Now, fourteen months after first splashing Exit, things have come around full circle again.  Once again, Exit sits awkwardly atop stands with a ladder tied to her transom in the same gravel parking lot, less than one hundred feet from the exact spot she occupied when we lived aboard her for six weeks last July and August.

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     We are learning that the real challenge to a successful haul out does not necessarily depend upon blindly ticking off a pre-determined list of tasks.  That would be the approach of boat owners with either deep pockets, or an end goal of working on their boat rather than sailing it.

     The real challenge is getting in and out quickly, as money begins to hemorrhage from everywhere the moment you arrive at the marina.

     Inevitably, closer inspections will turn up some surprises.  It becomes very easy to spiral into a cycle of pouring more and more money at something or getting bogged down with a list that continues to grow.  So, priorities have to be determined and evolve along the way with constant re-evaluations.

     For us, the top priority was checking for any signs of corrosion below the waterline on the aluminum hull, and getting any suspicious areas sanded down to bare metal.  Mild surface corrosion could then be covered with epoxy barrier coats before applying the final coats of anti-fouling paint.  More serious areas of corrosion would have to be discussed.

     With Exit now out of the water, we could get a better look at things.  Looking out from behind a mask underwater doesn’t tend to offer the best perspective of clarity.  On stands however, after a serious power spray, a much clearer picture begins to emerge.

    As we inspected the hull, we were surprised to find more spots of surface corrosion than we had addressed last year, but relieved that, overall, everything appeared very mild.  

     We found ourselves temporarily being sucked towards the black hole of financial implosion as we considered our options.  

     Option one: pay someone $4000 to soda blast the entire hull, $4000 to apply one coat of epoxy and anti-foul paint, and another couple thousand to have the stripes repainted… undeniably sexy… grand total over $10,000 right there… yowsa!

     Option two: do it ourselves.  Live with the condition of the painted stripes above the waterline for now.  Mostly cosmetic… they could be dealt with later.  Sand down all corrosion spots below the waterline by hand and scuff the rest of the paint.  Four barrier coats of epoxy and four coats of anti-fouling paint instead of one… grand total $2000 in paint with another $1000 in incidentals… sold.

     As we resisted the gravitational pull of the financial vacuum, we had to resist the expensively easy way out and re-prioritize our list to address structural corrosion while ignoring the more cosmetic aspects.  

     Repeatedly, strength and safety became our threshold for maintenance and preventative expenses.  If it added to Exit’s strength and reliability, we were more flexible in our budget restrictions.  Anything that simply looked pretty was heavily scrutinized, and rarely made the cut.

     Getting zincs attached to the hull was also at the top of the priority list.  But, with my aluminum welding experience being equal to my experience performing brain surgery, bringing in an outside expert was the only option we considered.  We were lucky enough to have Quentin of Quentin Fabrications available on short notice who made quick work of the fabricating and welding tasks, as well as touched up the single corrosion point deemed suspicious enough to warrant a quick fill with his welder.

     Having Quentin ponder how a twenty six year old boat with no zincs on the hull could have so little corrosion was entertaining.  Having him tell us – if the spot he just finished touching up was the most severe corrosion on the hull we had nothing to worry about – now that was most reassuring.  In fact, he said most of the corrosion points I asked him to look at had only about a third of the pitting that would cause the Coast Guard to demand repairs on a commercial passenger vessel.  Well done Garcia…

     A couple of hours and a couple of hundred dollars later, we had the aluminum tabs for a large zinc on either side of the skeg and two additional smaller zincs on the upper forward edge of the centerboard.  

     Future peace of mind.

     Tim and Paula, whom we met here the previous year, stopped by regularly, pointing out things on Exit that either needed immediate attention or generally questioning the wisdom of performing various tasks given the day’s temperature, or humidity, or wind.  Tim and Paula were just about to wrap up their seventh year working on their boat which sat on stands on the hard at Herrington Harbour North, before heading back to Alaska for the winter… launch date still to be solidified.

     Our spirits were dogged.  Our determination was steadfast. 

     Get in and out quickly.

     Most of the things on the to-do list could be dealt with while the boat was in the water, and we had learned quickly that the list never really shortens.

     Our only brief distraction came in the form of a mandatory hiatus to celebrate Kris’ fiftieth birthday.  With our lifelong friends Shannan and Vicki Schulhauser flying over from Washington State to spend an extended weekend with us in Annapolis, we decided to delay the timing of our launch.

     Instead of sailing to Annapolis to meet them, allowing us time to get only one coat of anti-fouling paint applied, we left Exit on the hard and took a boat-break for the weekend.  Sadly, this meant that, for the second time in as many visits, we would be unable to get Shannan and Vicki out for a sail on Exit.  It will happen… someday.

     Nevertheless, thanks to Shannan and Vicki for the epic land-based party… though my gut and my liver always seem to come out severely desecrated!

     Returning to Exit after a long needed weekend away from the boatyard, we set out to complete the task at hand… get the final coats of paint applied to the underside, get launched, and get moving south again. 

     The days when the sun shown were still quite temperate.  But the days grow shorter, and the nights are getting long; seems like we’re running out of time (sounds remarkably like a Triumph song).

     The frigid East Coast winter temperatures were banging loudly at the door.  We just needed to stay focused and make efficient use of our time to get back in the water.

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