Saturday, May 9, 2009

Hauling out on the grid in Sitka

We are back in Sitka--had a good trip around from Warm Springs Bay. One
of my first boat projects was hauling out on the tide grid to bottom paint
change zincs, and grease my variable pitch prop.
The tide grid is a system of pilings and bents. We position the boat over the bents
at high tide and tie off to the pilings. As the tide goes out, the boat slowly settles down
on top of the bents. If you do it right, the boat will remain upright and allow access to
the bottom until the tide comes back in.

Putting Sailboat Bob on the grid is a little more complicated than most
boats, as we have a wing keel and have to make sure the rudder doesn't
settle on a bent (which would cause some damage).
I always make sure I'm on the boat as it resettles on each high
tide to make sure the boat doesn't shift and come down in the
wrong place. On this grid, I probably have about a foot of leeway.
The fun part about being on the grid is that you have to go on a six
hour cycle. The high tide is usually in the middle of the night this
time of year, so you lose the first nights sleep moving the boat over
to the grid and waiting for it to touch down. Then you grab a couple
hours sleep and are up about 4 AM when the tide is low enough to get
at the bottom of the boat. A few hours later, the tide will chase you back
to shore and you have a few hours to run around to pick up all the things
you needed while the tide was low but didn't want to waste tide by chasing
them down. And a few hours later the boat will start to settle back down
on the grid as the tide starts to drop, so you need to be back to the boat to
make sure it comes down straight again. These cycles repeat until you're
and ready to float off (again in the middle of the night, ruining another
good night's sleep.
The boat standing straight up on the grid.
Most states have laws about the toxic materials that come off boats when
they haul out. You have to use a tarp to capture particles (bottom paint is
toxic because its job is to kill anything that tries to grow on your boat below
the waterline). Any water goes into a drain that is filtered before it is allowed
to return to the sea.
In Alaska, everybody runs their boat up on the grid, which submerges in the
sea twice a day. Old bottom paint is scraped, burned, or sanded off and pretty
much drop to the ground to be carried away by the next tide. Old zincs, paint
cans, plastic, and assorted unneccessary pieces of boat lay around, covered with
thick marine growth. Beds of mussels grow between the bents, and clams squirt
guysers of water into the air at low tide. Gulls and ravens scavenge constantly,
and as the tide comes in, fish, sea lions, seals and otters cruise through looking
for a meal. I guess they haven't read the notices that the grid area should be too
toxic to support life....

The coast guard buoy tender, the Maple, across the channel
from the grid, visited us in Warm Springs Bay last winter.

Besides bottom painting with anti-fouling paint, I also changed
my shaft zincs (which prevents galvanic corrosion to any metal
parts of the boat).

I also greased my max-prop. I can change the pitch on the prop,
and when we are under sail, I can feather the blades to minimize
drag. The prop automatically changes pitch when I shift into into
reverse for more efficiency when backing or stopping the boat. This
prop cost a lot more than most of the cars I've ever owned.