More Work in Maryland

20 May 2019   Herrington Harbour North, Virginia
We were up early again and rushed around tidying away our bedding and the various covers that we use to cover the upholstery.  At 10:20, we were still polishing woodwork, when Roger rang to say that the prospective buyers had arrived early and could they come around in 10 minutes?  The boat was in chaos, but we said yes and quickly pushed all our cleaning materials into shopping bags and into lockers.  Five minutes later, we had a pristine looking show boat.

I must say that after all our hard work, Alba looks terrific, I’m amazed at how well the interior woodwork has survived 8 years and 40,000 miles at sea.  The upholstery is spotless and even the 19 year old carpet looks great.  The teaks decks and the hull look fabulous even though we’ve only done a first pass at cleaning everything.

Show Boat

Roger spent an hour showing the punters around while we kept out of the way in the air-conditioned resident’s lounge.  The showing went well and they were impressed by the super condition of the boat and how well it had been maintained.  Roger later said that there were no negative points raised on the boat, so we don’t have to do any extra work in the remaining 9 days - we just need to finish off my job list.

DHL arrived at 13:20 to pick up our five boxes, but the T-Mobile signal has been dropping out all day and we missed his call.  The marina office even rang us, but they didn’t get through either.  At 13:30, I checked our messages, but by the time that we got to the marina office, the driver had already gone.   Glenys rang DHL, but has had to reschedule the pickup for tomorrow - it’s so frustrating.

It was a boiling hot day, so we declared a work-free afternoon and spent time planning what to do when we finally get to the UK. 

21 May 2019   Herrington Harbour North, Virginia
It was a cooler start to the day, so I painted the rest of the anchor locker using a paint brush taped to the end of a long pole.  I then ran fresh water through the outboard by placing a large bucket around the lower end and filling it with fresh water.  The idea was to flush out the corrosive sea water and it worked well.  I then poured in a load of antifreeze so that the pump and system are now winterised.

Meanwhile Glenys plodded on with the administrative nightmare of sending our belongings to the UK.  She received a notification from DHL that we’d been charged £30 import duty and taxes for our previous consignment, so it took nearly an hour to find out why.  It seems that if any items in a consignment are listed as originating outside the EU then VAT is due and the UK customs simply slap the charge on the whole consignment.  Our consignment was listed as being worth $100US, so they hit us for 20% and DHL charged us a £12 admin fee. 

Taking dinghy to storage

This meant that Glenys had to redo the paperwork for today’s consignment, stating that all goods originated in the UK.  Unfortunately, the custom’s value has been set at $500 and we can’t change it without cancelling the pickup, so at worst we’ll get hit for 20% of $500. Fingers crossed, it will all go through without any charge.

The DHL guy rang Glenys twice and she confirmed that she wanted him to come to the marina office.  The pickup went okay and by 14:00, Glenys was a mellow person again.

After lunch, I paddled the dinghy around to the dinghy dock and we pulled it up to the dinghy racks.  I removed the wheels from the transom because they are too easy to steal.  Glenys went back later and gave the dinghy a good cleaning.

I did a few more jobs in the afternoon and fitted a new bilge pump switch.  I’ve been carrying the switch around with me for two years and had a bracket made in Trinidad, which was 8 months ago.  I’ve been putting the job off, but in the end it only took an hour.  Amusing to think that we haven’t had a working automatic bilge pump for over two years and I finally fit it the day before we permanently haul out.

22 May 2019   Herrington Harbour North, Virginia
It was haul-out day.  We pottered about in the morning until 10:30 when Enterprise Car Rental collected us from the marina in a monster pickup truck and took us to their office about 20 miles away.  We went through the normal registration process and then they told us that we’d been upgraded to a better car.  

My hopes for a BMW M3 were dashed when he told us that we were to have the Monster Pickup Truck.  I was not happy and expressed my dismay.  The guy seemed really surprised that I was not pleased to have a gas-guzzling, huge vehicle and said that they didn’t have anything else left.  Eventually, after a few words, they gave us a smaller pickup truck, which had not been valeted and they promised to deliver a proper car tomorrow.

Alba being moved to haulout

We high-tailed it back to the marina and, after a quick lunch, the haul-out team arrived.  Herrington Harbour has a haul-out procedure that is very different to anything that we’ve seen.  They are obviously used to hauling out and launching boats without the rich owners being present.  The team has a small tender with a 25hp engine, which they tie onto the back of the boat to be moved.  This provides the propulsion and someone steers the boat using the normal steering wheel. 

It’s a very good method because they don’t need the erratic owner to be present or the boat engine to work.  I’ve been watching the team for the last two weeks and they are incredibly proficient at manoeuvring boats.  The team leader asked if I wanted to drive the boat around to the haul-out dock - I politely declined, mostly because we were on a falling tide and I was terrified of going aground.  As I watched them push Alba away from our berth, I sadly realised that I will never sail on her again.

I watched the team lift Alba out of the water using a large 85 tonne lift, which was controlled by a guy using a remote control box.  I thought at first that it was a bit of a gimmick, but the guy was able to move around the travel lift and make sure that the slings were in the correct place.  After pressure washing, Alba was trundled to her final resting place next to Free State Yacht Brokerage. 

Meanwhile, Glenys was washing the dinghy and I went to help her lift it onto the storage rack.  We covered the dinghy with a tarpaulin (Americans call it a “tarp”) and the dinghy will stay there until the new owner collects it.

We headed back to Alba; cleared stuff out of lockers and the fridges; loaded it into our pickup truck and shot off to our AirBnB.  We just made it for the appointed time and settled into living ashore.  The house that we’ve rented is not that special and we feel a little sad to have moved off Alba - our home for 8 years.

23 May 2019   Herrington Harbour North, Virginia
We were up early-ish and arrived at the boat at 08:20.  Yesterday, Roger had arranged for a couple of people to view the boat at 13:00 today, so Glenys set to cleaning the fridges, which we’d emptied yesterday, and generally tidying up ready for a viewing.  

On the Hard

We contacted the car rental company, who said that to change the pick-up truck for a smaller car, we had to drive back to their depot, which would take an hour out of our day.  It was a bit irritating, but we decided to keep the pick-up - it makes me feel more American to have to climb down from a huge car.

I pottered about, cleaning up the propeller; the stripper and the cutlass bearing.  It all seems to be in good condition apart from a couple of small gouges in the propeller where we’ve obviously hit something.  I’m really glad that we’ve sailed around the world with a fixed three-bladed propeller instead of a fancy folding or feathering prop.  It has probably cost us ½ knot in boat speed, but it’s very strong and simple - I don’t know how a fancier propeller would have fared when hitting stuff in the water.

We have a 45lb CQR on board, which has sat in the anchor locker for the last eight years and never been used - it still has the price label stuck on from Budget Marine in Grenada where the previous owner bought it.  Unfortunately, time (and lack of care) has not treated it well and it had quite a bit of corrosion, so I used a hammer and wire brush to clean it up.  I then painted on some Rust Eater to stabilise the rust and shoved it back into the anchor locker.  It’s not on the inventory of the boat, so the new owner can throw it away if they want to, but at least it won’t stain my beautifully painter anchor locker.

Removing varnish from cockpit table

We went for a long lunch, leaving Roger alone to show the prospects around Alba.  Later, he said that it went well and they were impressed by how well-maintained the boat was.  Fingers crossed…

In the afternoon, Glenys went back to lash the “tarp” onto the dinghy and then pottered about doing a few odd jobs.  Meanwhile, I started replacing a small piece of mahogany trim in the front heads, which has been showing a bit of rot.  I chopped out a 3 inch section and found dry rot penetrating inside, so I chiselled most of it out and injected some Git-Rot which is an (expensive) penetrating epoxy, which is supposed to bind the loose fibres together and stabilise the structure.  I’ll finish the repair tomorrow.

By 15:30, the heat was oppressive, so we gave up and drove to Dunkirk to a big supermarket.  The thunderstorm hit just as we were checking out, so we got soaked running back to the pickup.  On the way back to the house, we stopped at “La Bella” pizzeria in Friendship and bought dinner.

24 May 2019   Herrington Harbour North, Virginia
Only 5 sleeps before we fly back to the UK, so we were up at 07:00 and working on the boat at 08:00.  Glenys spent all day on the horrible task of stripping the varnish from the two opening leaves of the cockpit table.  The varnish appears to be Interlux Perfection, which is a two part polyurethane finish - it’s very shiny, but a bugger to remove.  It either comes of in sheets or sticks like s**t to a blanket.  Wisely, she found a pleasant place to do the work - on a picnic table under the trees next to a cool pond.

Boat in chaos again

I worked on replacing the small piece of mahogany that I removed yesterday.  The piece is only 4 inches long, but I was working on it for most of the day.  The first job was to fill the cavity where I’d cut away the rotton wood.  I used a two part wood filler, which was supposed to have a working time of 15 minutes, but the first batch set solid in five minutes, before I had a chance to use any.  I applied multiple thin layers of the filler into the largest hole so it took most of the morning, doing little jobs in between each layer. 

Once I had the filling finished, I started the task of removing the old varnish from the whole 7 foot long strip of wood.  I was hoping that I’d be able to scrape the varnish off and minimise the mess, but I was damaging the wood, so I had to resort to using a small detail sander, which kicked up a lot of dust.  To prevent the dust billowing out into the rest of the boat, I locked myself in the (small) heads and sweated for an hour.

After lunch, I did a few other little jobs and then shaped a piece of mahogany, ready to stick in place tomorrow.

We rented a carpet cleaner from the local hardware store for $25 + $15 for the carpet cleaning solution - much cheaper than the outrageous $285 quoted by one of the marine companies.  We took our carpets back to the house and cleaned them out on the large garden deck - tick another job off the list, only another 20 to go. 

25 May 2019   Herrington Harbour North, Virginia
We were up at 07:00 and at work by 08:00 again.  Glenys finished off sanding the cockpit table and then moved the mattresses out of the front cabin to turn it into a varnishing workshop.  Meanwhile, I finished shaping the piece of mahogany and stuck it in place. After knifing on a bit of wood filler, I sanded it off and it was ready for varnishing. 

De-rusting the anchor chain

We dropped the anchor and the chain onto the ground and, after laying it out; we started the mind-numbing job of painting phosphoric acid onto the chain.  The chain has a lot of surface rust where the galvanising has rubbed off on the seabed, so the idea of the phosphoric acid is to stabilise the rust and convert it to a protective layer.  It’s not a permanent fix, but should help to prevent my beautifully painted anchor locker from getting stained with rust.

Glenys took over the chain work, while I removed the aft heads door, which has had a horrible white patch on the inside caused by water getting into the varnish.  Normally when this happens, the “bloom” goes away after a few days, but this one has been white for months. I sanded the door down with 120 grit sandpaper and then varnished it.  I also varnished the cockpit table leaves and the mahogany strip in the front heads.  

Most of our big jobs are now nearing completion with a just few more coats of varnishing required and we’re about done with the dirty, messy jobs, so I tidied up the saloon while Glenys cleaned out the gas locker which was an eyesore.  From tomorrow, we can start putting the boat back together and doing a final cleaning - only 3 days to go.

26 May 2019   Herrington Harbour North, Virginia
We had another early start.  I used my Dremel to grind out a small groove above the rudder shoe and then filled it with flexible sealant.  I then pulled the anchor chain back into the locker.  My next job was to varnish the aft toilet door, the cockpit table and the mahogany strip in the front heads.  

Meanwhile Glenys cleaned a couple of bilges and generally started to tidy up. By midday, it was blisteringly hot and we’d ticked off most of our jobs, so we retired back to the air-conditioned house that we’ve rented.