Everyone knows that if you want to take a girl out you need to find somewhere that will impress her, a first-class joint, otherwise you might as well say goodbye to the whole relationship thing. Seeing as Toucan has looked after us so well for the past 4 1/2 years it seemed only fair to reciprocate, and The Boat Works on Coomera River seemed to fit the bill. It didn’t disappoint.
We had a few days to kill before our scheduled haul-out, so we hung out in the appropriately-named Bum’s Bay, chock-a-block with long-term live-aboard boats in various stages of disrepair as well as plenty of other visiting cruisers like us. Just when you think you can’t possibly squeeze in any more boats, the weekend warriors arrive on their big fancy stink boats, powering through the pack to find their perfect spot. In the eloquent and apt phrasing of our friend Jack it was definitely ‘nuts to butts’. To add to the mix we had jet-skiers weaving in and out doing doughnuts around the boats and joy flight helicopters from the resort providing a constant drone from above. Ah, the serenity!
In its’ favour, the anchorage was calm and the weather was beautiful. It was also an easy dinghy ride over to the public wharf near Australia Fair, where we stocked up on a few more essentials. How do we do this again? Oh that’s right, take the portable shopping trolley, plenty of bags, think carefully about how much we can actually transport by foot, remember to take the dinghy fender, lock and key…we’re back into cruising mode again, albeit a bit rusty.
Our date for haul-out was scheduled for Tuesday. We reckoned it would take a couple of hours to wend our way up the canals and river to Coomera, but didn’t factor in the tide being against us (so rusty!), so the leisurely cruise turned into a pedal-to-the-metal dash for the last few miles. No-one was too phased that we were a few minutes late, and we had a warm and professional welcome from the yardsmen.
The Boat Works is a huge, well-oiled outfit, with two slipways, two traditional travel-lifts and one hydraulic lifter busy shuttling boats in and out all day. It’s owned by Tony Longhurst, a previous racing car driver and now sailor himself (who incidentally we met in the Percy Islands when we were travelling around Australia on Illusion) and he knows what sailors like – a clean yard, good amenities, free laundry (7 machines!) a chandlery, cafe and 5 (count ‘em!) courtesy cars. They don’t call it ‘The Boat Spa’ for nothing.
The two main jobs were to get the anti-fouling done and change the port rudder bearing, but of course there were a myriad of other small jobs to do. Because we wanted to get in and out quickly we hired Marine Antifouling to spray on our new bottom paint, which left us free to pattern and install the rest of our ‘faux teak’ decking on the back steps. We’d had to wait to do this until we were out of the water, as the bottom steps are frequently awash when we’re sailing and we didn’t think the normal adhesive backing on the foam would stand up to the saltwater without a liberal dose of sikaflex to glue it down. Patterning and lining up the strips was, to put it mildly, a PITA, but it was worth it for the finished result. If you don’t look too closely it looks quite impressive! Let’s hope it holds up over time.
The last time we replaced the (starboard) rudder bearing was in Curacao when we had Rob, Penny and Geoff on board, and it was a hell of a job to get the old lower bearing out and get the rudder back in. So we were expecting a similar experience this time with the port bearing. And guess what? Yep, just as bad! The only way Bruce could get the old bearing out was to saw it out in pieces (very very carefully). The only saving grace this time was that the guys operating the lifter gave us a hand to reinstall the rudder. The operation goes like this – Bruce is in the engine bay looking down the rudder shaft and calling instructions how to position the rudder, I’m on the back step relying his instructions to the guys below while they try to man-handle it into position. They did have one secret weapon that made the task easier – I’m not sure what the technical name for it is, but it’s like a stand with a pad on top and a wind-up screw (a bit like a car jack I guess). Once the rudder was positioned correctly they simply (and slowly) wound it up into the shaft. Voila!
(unfortunately no pics as I was busy being relay-girl).
All that remained was a good boat-wash and our girl was ready to be splashed, all sparkly clean and looking glam. Our pockets are a bit lighter, but what the heck, she’s worth it!