10 December 2006
Gold Coast Marina Center, Coomera River S 27.52.210 E 153.20.154
Life is hard and expensive
"If you play you pay" and that is what we have been doing the last several weeks, paying and paying and paying.......with absolutely no playing. During our Pacific crossing, we postponed repairs and purchases until our arrival in Australia where we knew we could find quality workmen and a good variety of marine parts. Well that's partly true, but the Australian dollar is a good deal stronger than what we had read from other cruiser journals. It is prohibitively expensive to order anything from the US due to shipping charges and every tradesman may not have the skill or professional workmanship that we had hoped for. And YES I would like some cheese with my whine....anyway, here is a list of what we have accomplished so far in our stopover in the Gold Coast:
- aluminum shoes removed from the keels of the boat and the keels re-glassed,
- new bottom paint,
- had the Max props serviced,
- serviced the saildrives to include new seals
- extensive gel coat repairs and detailing
- electrical work
- new rudder bearings and steering adjustment
- new floor in the starboard engine compartment
- new pumps
- new dinghy motor lift
- a rebuild of the water maker motor
- new engine mounts
- alternator reworked
- converted one head to salt water flush
- new hardware on life raft drop door
- new striping, new running rigging
- sail repair on the spinnaker
- closed extra thru hulls in engine compartments
- new sails and sail cover
- new bimini
- new bridle attachment with new bridle
- Panda generator pulled and sent to Brisbane to determine if it is feasible to repair or should we buy new......and many more little things too tiresome to mention here.
We believed all the work was handled professionally but scheduling could have been dealt with by a sterner hand. Toward the last few days we had as many as eight people working on the boat and when we went back in the water the steering cables still were not attached and we had to be towed to our berth. In retrospect we should have spent a week or so getting ready for a haul out and had some of the work done before we got out of the water. The lift out of the water taught us that Fountaine Pajot catamarans cannot be hauled out by a trolley from under the bridge. After a great deal of "mucking about" the crew at the marina finally got the boat out of the water but not without gouging a hole in the fiberglass and scraping the paint off the aluminum shoes that were on the keels. The large hulls and the curved undercarriage make it more suitable to be hauled by a travel lift. Barnacle Busters was our primary contractor and Peter the owner introduced us to his subcontractors or took care of the electrical, detailing and mechanical jobs along with members of his crew. Pete has just bought a motorcycle builder similar to the one you see on PBS that builds choppers and moved it to the marina to do the stainless steel work necessary on boats. Well, if you are ever under the bottom of our boat you will see some of the finest and most highly polished stainless steel on any boat anywhere. Peter was also kind enough to let us use one of his UTE vehicles while we were at the Marine Center allowing us to get provisions and even catch a movie. And all this for the price of a Harley Davidson and the truck to put it in.
There is of course an extensive list of small things we did ourselves but let's forego that. We did endure 10 days 'on the hard' in a very nice boatyard that has no facilities for live aboards. In fact, we were the only people in the yard at night except for Mel the night watchman. There was a restaurant within walking distance and it was open for breakfast and lunch only and remember we had no refrigeration, no air conditioning, no toilet onboard, no hot water, no shore power, no inverter (our was removed to replace the engine floor). It was hell but everyone was very nice and accommodating and we made many new friends and acquaintances.
Okay so back in the water and we are still hanging around waiting for new sails, a new sail cover, a new bimini and a host of other things to be completed. We had a rigger onboard to replace all the halyards and several other lines, to fabricate a new goose neck and to inspect the rigging. Unfortunately we didn't know that right before Christmas is the busiest time of the year for the marine industry as everyone gets ready for the extended holidays. Every third household along the Gold Coast owns some sort of a boat and they all wait for the last minute to have it readied for the holidays. So all shipyards and all tradesmen are extremely busy working seven days a week and lots of overtime trying to accommodate this demand. This year was apparently worse than most . Bah Hum Bug!
The day before Christmas and we are ready to cast off. The evening before the sail maker finished the sails and the sail bag and the winds were from the north. We had visions of New Year's Eve in Sydney with our friends and fireworks exploding high over the Opera House. We would get underway early and if the winds held we would sail the entire distance of 450 miles without pulling in. We had plenty of time to get there but as we eased our way out of the slip and into the middle of the channel we noticed that the boat was not handling as normal. Rene put the boat in forward and something significant was wrong. We made it back into our slip and I put my swim suit on and jumped into the water which is as dirty as I've ever been in. What the heck.........!! no port propeller (do you believe I said heck?). Now this is the day before Christmas and everything was closed. Peter from Barnacle Busters happened to be on the premises to pick up some shrimp from a local shrimp boat, so he called a diver to come in to see if he could find the propeller and to fit our spare fixed prop. But as I said the water in the river is so muddy that finding the prop would have been shear luck. Mark, the diver, tried to fit the spare but found that the shaft had sheared off, so we were now totally out of luck. In Australia "the night before Christmas and all through the country not a creature is stirring " and this goes on in most businesses until Jan 8.
Okay let's cut to the chase. Our propeller sheered the shaft the first time that we put the boat into reverse. The diver can't find the propeller in the muck and can't mount our fixed prop now that the shaft is broken. The marine center did get us in touch with Sea Tech, the mechanical house that serviced our Max Props. Over the next three weeks all they provided us with were many half truths and misinformation and continued to drag their feet using the holidays as an excuse. We on the other hand walked a half mile to a pay phone day after day and started to work gathering information. We are now stuck on a short dock with only water and power and have been there for weeks on end. Never once did the General Manager, Don Meridith, call or attempt to contact us. We always had to initiate the contact. Finally after two weeks they said that the Max Prop was in fact not on order as they had told us and that SeaTech would not pay for any parts but that they would only charge us half the hourly rate on the work. We might have expected this less than forthright approach in developing nations but not in Australia. But no they tried to wear us down knowing that we are a transit boat. No doubt it is just this particular vendor or at least we hope so. Forgive me but I just can't stop. Imagine that you take your car to the dealer for new brakes and when you get in the car after paying the bill as you drive away a wheel falls off. And that the mechanic takes no responsibility for the problem and then tells you. " yeah mate a couple of the nuts look suspicious so I replaced them". Did he try to find out why the nuts were suspicious. Anyway we believe that the problem was over torque of the nut that created a weakness in the shaft. Although the OEM and after market propeller manufactures caution about under or over torque no torque measuring device was used.
Well at this point we had no choice but to proceed with the repairs ourselves and to try and collect our expenses by filing a complaint with the Fair Trading Council or to contact a lawyer and proceed in court. No internet, no car, no connections and a time limit on our visa, could we succeed? One of the favorite expression in Australia is "no drama mate". Well, this is a drama for us and you can keep up with it by tuning in for the "rest of the story" in future logs.
This is a bit like British "carry-on humor" but while in the water looking at the broken stud I asked Rene to straighten the rudder. That's when we found out that the rudder on the port side was misaligned by 90 degrees. I never understood carry-on humor and never enjoyed it. Now I know why.
I must take a minute out of my ranting to say thank you to all the people that we have met while here in the Marine Center. Some of the nicest mates that you could ever meet who stop by every weekend just to see how you are doing, who bring a bottle of wine and some fish and chips to the boat for a wonderful dinner for four, who just drop by to see if we have a way or need anything from the grocery store. It has given us a chance to meet our neighbors who own a Light Wave 38 Catamaran, Chris and Lynn, and they took us out for a Sunday sail - to get us away from the river muck. They have a brand new Light Wave 38 that they are going to captain and charter. If interested, you can contact them at email@example.com.
But for now we are here in Coomera knowing that we will not be in Sydney for the New Years and trying to get an attitude adjustment to enjoy the season here.
Click on the arrow to see pictures of the haul out. Click on the square to stop the slideshow.
Haul Out at Gold Coast Marine Center