Sanding overhead is a hard, messy job. It is a painfully awkward position, and the machine has to be held – no, pressed – up to the work. Depending on the machine being used, dust mask and eyewear is somewhere between a good idea for safety’s sake and necessary for survival. My sander of choice is a Festool RO 150 FEQ, which puts me solidly in the survival category. The thing is a beast and tears off paint at an incredible rate… if you can hold it up. For every one minute I can hold it, I probably have to rest for two.
Now for the Surprise of the Day: At some point in the last couple years, I noticed some hull damage on the inside of the port transom aft of the rudder. The wood was broken, thrust upward like tectonic plates. It was dry, so I assumed that whatever had happened, it had been repaired from the outside. It wasn’t a high stress area, so I wasn’t too worried about it. I repaired the inside to the best of my ability at that time, and promptly forgot about it.
But then during this haulout I noticed the spot looked a little funny on the outside, remembered my inside repair, and we decided to dig into it. It turns out it wasn’t repaired from the outside at all. I now think that a boatyard worker, probably at our last haulout, over-tensioned a jackstand and didn’t tell anyone. The planks of the hull were broken, but the fiberglass skin held its shape, and the water out, for many hard miles.
Another spot repaired at the same yard, where our keels were damaged while hauling out on their rail, we found was not done correctly and will have to be redone.
That was at a “full-service” yard, where I was supposed to turn over my baby and wait until they’re finished billing me. They tolerated my daily visits, but I wasn’t allowed to do any work. I had to rely on their personnel for everything. It was not an experience I’m in a hurry to repeat.
This time we’re at a yard that allows Do-It-Yourself work, and the difference is huge. Nothing happens unless I do it or arrange to have it done. I’ve hired a crew that I trust, and we work on the boat as a team. Mistakes can always happen, but at least this time they’ll be my mistakes.