Friday, October 10, at 3:30AM I again parked Mirador on the beach, but this time it was dead calm and she was there for repairs. The cruisers in Puerto Don Juan and I had been planning the beaching and strengthening of Mirador for a week but the two hurricanes, Olaf and Nora, prevented us from working on Mirador until Friday.
Nora refused to die and wandered about the East Pacific, between Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas for over eight days until she finally went ashore north of Mazatlan. Olaf, who was even scarier, made an unexpected right turn south of Puerto Vallarta and smashed himself to death on the 7,000 foot mountains southeast of PV.
Earlier in the week we were still getting rain showers and the odd thunderstorm from the Nora outflow so had to postpone the repair work that required warm dry weather. Finally, on Thursday morning we heard a forecast for clearing and drying by Thursday afternoon. The short, and un-predicted, thunderstorm that blew thru the anchorage at 8 PM on Thursday made us a little nervous but the clouds were gone when I woke up at 3 AM.
We planned the beaching of Mirador on the falling high tide at 3:45 AM. That was an important time since the next higher tide at 3 PM was almost a foot higher than the tide I was beaching on. I wanted that cushion of water to ensure we could get Mirador off the beach without dragging her through the sand.
Dick from Corazone, David from Isla Encanto, and Jim from Kula met me on Mirador a 3:15 AM under a full moon and calm winds. Shortly after Dick, Jim, and I gulped down some strong Starbuck's Columbian Supremo coffee we pulled Mirador's anchor and motored 200 yards to the careening beach. I slowed Mirador till she was barely making any way and waited to feel the keel stick in the sand. We were moving so slow and the sand was so soft that finally Dick told me that we were stuck and I was committed to the plan.
The most important task was to get the bow and stern anchors out at 45° toward shore to keep the port hull pointed at the morning sun where it would quickly dry.
The next, really important task, was to heel the boat to starboard to ensure that as the tide fell Mirador would roll the port hull upward. We attached the Bruce 44 pound anchor and 80 feet of line to the spinnaker halyard and then Jim and Dick used a dinghy to get the anchor as far from the starboard side of the boat as possible.
The tide was dropping about 18" an hour so we didn't have long to wait for Mirador to start heeling. Dick had secured a tag line to the spinnaker halyard and used that line to force Mirador to heel. The four of us stood on the starboard rail and it wasn't long before Mirador was over 10° toward starboard.
Jim and I had disconnected and plugged all the tank vents and had checked all the thru hulls on the starboard side to ensure they were all closed.
All that was left to do was put three large truck tires under the turn of the bilge as the boat heeled even further. I used Dicks big dive light to swim the tires under the hull as Mirador heeled about 25°. I quickly found that a truck tire, even with almost no air trapped in it, will not sink. I couldn't begin to get the tires underwater until I put on 15 pounds of diving weights at which point it was very easy to place the tires where desired.
You can see in the picture above the Lagoon 38 Island Sonata also went on the beach with us. They had a much easier time of getting the boat settled. John and MJ just put a pair of 4x6 blocks under each keel and waited for the cat to settle on to them. Island Sonata was given a 2nd coat of bottom paint during this low tide. She had received her first coat two weeks ago on the big tides at the new moon.
As Mirador continued to heel further and further over the four of us sat on the edge of cockpit seats and chatted. There was not much we could do until daylight at about 6 AM. By then the cracks in the port hull would be out of the water and we could start washing and drying them in preparation for grinding. Or so I thought!
I went below just to check that nothing was sliding off the up-hill shelves and bookcases. I heard water running inside the boat. A frantic search ensued, while heeled at over 45°, for the source of the noise. We assumed it was a thru hull and checked the heads and the forward sink but none of those were leaking. I then tore the cushions off the starboard settee to get to the mid-ships starboard thru hulls. On Horror! - the compartment under the settee was 6" deep in salt water. Where was it coming in?
I finally noticed that water was running out from under the workbench in the shop. That was not a good sign. The shop used to be the aft head and the still functional sink is under the workbench that is firmly bolted to the cabinets and cleats on the bulkhead. I reached into the compartment containg the sink drain thru-hull and verified that the handle was parallel to the hull, in theory that is OFF. Due to the placement of the workbench and tool cabinets under the bench, it is not possible to see the thru-hull without some unusual body contortions that are impossible when the boat is heeled over 50°. Water was bubbling 3" upward from the sink drain as Mirador heeled further to starboard and put the sink drain even further below the waterline,
I stuffed a small pot holder into the sink drain which stopped the inflow of water. I have a 60 GPM emergency pump that I can drop into any compartment and then run it's 20' exhaust hose over the side. That pump emptied the compartment in about four minutes. Unfortunately the vacuum cleaner, TV/VCR, all our DVDs, many VHS tapes, computer CDs, and Vacuum Bagger (FoodSaver) were flooded with saltwater.
After Mirador returned to her normal upright anchorage I found that the sink thru-hull was installed with a 90° elbow so the handle has to be at right angles to the hull to be closed which is opposite of any other thru-hull in the boat. When I closed it by feel four years ago I never verified that the sink drain was actually shut.
The sun came up, the hull was washed and dried, and Jim from Kula went to work with his grinder. I am very fortunate that Jim, who is also one of my regular cribbage partners, owned a boat repair business in Seattle and is an expert with fiberglass repairs. We had borrowed a Honda 1000 watt generator from Jack and Herme on Iwa and used it to power Jims 110 volt grinder. Until you've been out here cruising for a while it is hard to understand how much "stuff" cruising boats carry. Three of the ten boats in the anchorage had big grinders to lend me.
The problem was that Mirador was heeled over about 60° and the cracks were so high in the air that we could only make a platform for one person at a time to grind.
Moving about, actually climbing, on Mirador was very dangerous so I was the only one to go aboard while she was heeled.
Here I am managing the generator while Jim is grinding out one of the many potholes and cracks. The water was about a foot deep at this point and stayed that low for about three hours.
Jim stood on a boat laid across the two white foot stools you can see in the dinghy. Much of the grinding was well over his head. You definitely don't want to try this in the states where OSHA or EPA might have something to say. After grinding it appeared that none of the cracks penetrated even halfway through the original glass hull.
Jim and Dick did the fiberglass application. They used epoxy resin and three or four layers of 17 ounce bi-axial cloth with matt attached (Kyntex glass) to repair all the cracks. Dennis from Lady Galadrial cut all the cloth to shape and his wife Lisa and I held the tools, solvents, rags, and dinghy in place. Dick has built 30 some small boats out of glass and obviously knew how to apply the stuff.
That is Jim in the red had, Dick in the white tee shirt, Dennis in the red tee shirt and me with the green shirt.
The whole repair process went very smoothly and the hull is probably stronger now that before it was cracked.
You can see in the first picture on this page that we had to put a sun awning over the repairs because the sun got so hot that the epoxie was curing faster than Jim or Dick wanted it to. We left that awning up until the last minute and then took it down just before we headed out to deep water. All the epoxie was hard and dry by the time it went underwater.
Mirador started to float upright around 11 AM and was free of the bottom by noon. Just to ensure that we could get her back to deep water, I walked the 66 pound Spade anchor out to chest deep water. That gave us a 60° pulling angle to kedge off if necessary. However, once Mirador sat upright Dick started pushing the bow to deep water with his inflatable and 18 HP outboard. The bow slowly pivoted toward deep water and away we went. No problems.
The last drama of the day occurred after I reanchored in 25 feet of water. I pulled the stop lever for the diesel and it came loose in my hand. I went below and saw that the cable at the engine end had vanished so I had no way to stop the Yanmar. Dennis came over to help and after reading the Yanmar service manual we were able to locate the fuel shut off lever on the Yanmar governor, hidden under the manifold for the fuel injector system.
I feel much better now! No hurricanes in sight and Mirador has all her dings sealed with her hull back to its original strength.
Now, all I have to do it figure out where to go for permanent repairs.