I write this in March, with Hejira ashore undergoing a major refit.

Having carried out the remedial work and with the keel refurbished at the original foundry in Cornwall, I have been waiting since last December for the first lift of a probable total of at least four to complete the exercise.

The keel/grounding plate weighing nearly 4 tons, awaiting treatment.

The awaited ‘lift’ is to reunite Hejira with her keel/grounding plate in order to prove the alignment of all the new bolts, replaced during the keel service. Once proven, copious mastic will need to be applied before bolting the assembly back into place. She will then need to be floated overnight to check the water integrity before lifting back ashore for the interior to be restored. This precaution is absolutely compelling as, to discover a concealed leaking keel bolt after the huge job of the reinstatement of water and diesel tanks, two AC units, batteries, holding tank, hydraulic systems and bulkheads, would be impossibly frustrating.

I am told that the marina is still struggling with a backlog of 150 boats requiring lifting with the travel hoist which has been largely out of service since last year. The incumbent Northney travel lift operator resigned before Christmas, then the itinerant replacements from other marinas in the MDL conglomerate, condemned the whole travel lift system. This necessitated servicing and refurbishment which further delayed the resumption of operations.

The hull work completed and the 3 coats of ‘Silic one’ antifouling applied.

There is currently no sign of the first lift in the process being firmly scheduled.

I have been in regular contact with the excellent contractor, Chris Murch at Northney, who is trying to manage the situation and who is as frustrated as I am. Another problem is that the first lift (after lifting the keel into the correct position) is a very delicate operation to align the 27 keel bolts with the hull and this demands an experienced operator. The ray of hope (am I clutching at straws…?) is that newly recruited MDL travel lift operators are about to receive training from an instructor at Northney Marina. What a good way for the (presumably highly experienced) operator to show off his/her skills by seamlessly marrying the keel to the hull to a round of applause. It would be heard all the way back at my home in Sunningdale!

In the meantime, my plans are being seriously moderated. Iceland and probably Ireland are off the agenda for this year and my aspirations have become more local.

The saving grace (more straw clutching?) is that, when the refit is finally completed, and the new systems commissioned and thoroughly ‘shaken down’, Hejira will be in great shape for more significant adventures in the future. Bring it on !

13 thoughts on “Frustration

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  1. Such frustrations! We sailed north last season, spending a week in Dun Laoghaire, and then on to the inner and outer Hebrides.
    Having left Fenicia in Ardrossan, we’re heading to Orkney and Shetland this season.
    Good luck with the refit and maybe we’ll see you in a Highland hostelry?
    Jenny & Simon

    1. Thanks for your message Jenny & Simon. It seems such a long time since we met on the Algarve and shared an evening while my son ‘went on the raz’ in town with his mates. Such fond memories, it would be wonderful to catch up.

    1. Yes, Richard, it is like a sticky latex, rather like the ‘PropSpeed’ I am using on the prop. There is a Silic prop version but I have not heard such good reports of this so I have opted for the tried and trusted PropSpeed – I sent the prop away for service, abrading and professional application.

  2. I fully sympathise with your frustrations, Nick. However, I am more than a little mystified by your concerns over the potential keelbolt leaks and alignment issues.
    Having carried out precisely the same operation with Istana just two years ago (all keel bolts replaced), once aligned the hull was lowered on to the keel unit with a decisive ‘clack’ and with copious quantities of mastic (specification of this is important) applied to the keel unit before assembly and to the underside of all s/s plate washers internally, there was simply NO RISK of any water ingress whatsoever. Job done!
    What does need need to be checked carefully is that the keel bolts are long enough! My recollection is that those furthest aft may need to go through an extra thickness of fibreglass hull, and therefore need to be longer. Just check!
    Of course, if Irons Bros have repositioned some of the bolts, then that is another matter, but I find this hard to believe.
    Are you sure that you removed 28 NUTS? (Repeat: twenty eight nuts) Northshore often don’t bother to put back all of them: too much trouble!!
    Note, we replaced all the internal plate washers. (Got rid of Northshore’s rusty mild steel: what they did to save a few pennies!) With plenty of mastic under these, watertightness is virtually guaranteed!

    1. Thanks for your post, John.
      I can’t remember how many bolts, 27,28, 29…?
      You are quite right, there should be no misalignment but the relative lengths is a concern. I wouldn’t want it all to be ‘slavered’ in curing mastic and have to withdraw for any reason.
      Also, yes, the integrity of the seal will be 99.99% but, given that there is an enormous amount of work in re-instating the interior, I wouldn’t want to discover an inaccessible leak. So for the sake of a lift in and out to check this, I would rather ‘close off’ the 0.01%.
      My internal plate washers are Stainless Steel, they have been cleaned up and will be re-used. Double nuts will be tightened after evenly ‘torqueing up’.

    1. Thanks Alan. Our daughter lives in Blackrock, South Dublin and we visit your delightful country on a regular basis. Unfortunately our visits tend to be brief and we rarely venture as far south as Cork. I had intended to take Hejira to Dun Laoghaire this year en-route to more northern destinations but, as your will see from the above, it is very unlikely now this year. Kinsale is not out of the question next year and I would look forward to catching up with you if I ‘put in’ there.
      All the best !

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