Thursday, August 1, 2013

Last Tango in St. Louis

I'm back at the house in the city for one last time. Tomorrow is an early morning go for the second half of the contract flight started on Monday. By Saturday evening the boat will be my only "home address". Deb will be there Saturday but has to return to the city for the final act of renting out the house. She will spend a last couple of days helping Daughter Middle do some work on her house before joining me late next week. Then, finally, both of us will have turned 6 years of part-time living on our boat(s) into our full time occupation.

OK so this hole might sink the boat
It will not be "last good-byes", not yet. There are still several weeks of work to do before the boat goes on the truck. While I am actually making a little progress on the steering vane install, most of the effort for the next two weeks will focus on the hull bottom. There are a couple of items that need addressed; what look like pretty minor things to me but the marine industry types like to get goofy about. The marine industry type being, in this case, yet another surveyor. (New insurance, another survey).

Next step is to glass in this transfer tube and add the support brackets

His email referred to “global blisters indicating uncured resins”, “disbonding”, “hull flex and cracking”, “hydraulic migration”, and “the biggest smile I have ever seen”. Sounds terrible, right? But "the biggest smile I have ever seen" is simply "disbonding" bondo. Tartan used pounds of it fairing in the keel. Anyone who thinks bondo has anything to do with structure needs to go back to High School auto-body class. "Hull flex and cracking" is a minor crack in more bondo used to fill where the prop shaft support exits the hull. (Apparently telling the difference between fiberglass and bondo is a highly technical endeavor requiring something marine surveyors don't own; eyes maybe?) "Hydraulic migration" is, well, I don't know what it is. I know what it means but I have no clue what it has to do with our hull. There are no soft spots in it so I'm not sure where the "hydraulic" is supposed to be "migrating" too. I think I'm supposed to be impressed by the technical sounding words except, well, I've been an aircraft technician for four decades. We have all kinds of technical sounding words to throw around as well; hammer, bucking bar, screwdriver, duct tape, load cells, bend radius, edge distance ... are you impressed? Me neither.

As for the “global blisters indicating uncured resins”? It looks to me like surface defects and years of poorly applied bottom paint. Uncured resins? This hull is thirty years old and "uncured resins" show up in the last two years floating in fresh water? It is going to take some extra work to fix the screwed up paint jobs; two weeks maybe instead of the normal four days. There will be some research to find out about base coats and compatibility, and a fair amount of effort, but it falls far short of being "an issue".

I was a little bent out of shape at the survey at first; after all this is the second one I've had and the second one I'm having "issues" with. But now? Ah well, this is apparently what "surveyors" do in the marine industry, an industry that hasn't impressed me very much anyway. In my opinion this whole "blistering" thing has been mostly a tempest in a teapot and a way to generate some easy billing hours for boat yards. Sure there can be problems with composite materials; but you have to be seriously incompetent to lay one up so poorly that uncured resins cause hydraulic migration leading to disbonding, hull flex, cracking and (I suppose) eventual sinking. That kind of thing doesn't show up 30 years later.

I spent my entire professional career betting my life on being right about mechanical and technical things. (That's what happens when you fix airplanes and then fly them.) And I know a little bit about composite structures and fiberglass. Kintala's hull "issues" are largly cosmetic. She is not about to flex, disbond herself, or sink. And that is all I care about.

But I hope I never have to pay another dime to a marine surveyor.


Latitude 43 said...

Wow. I see a future in the marine surveying field. Where do I apply?

Deb said...

Yeah you and Tim both. We've been directly involved or affected by several surveys now with several different surveyors, and they've all been a joke. I suspect this is all a result of litigation though. They're all trying to protect their asses.