A crucial part of any boat's preparations is the dry docking she has to undergo. She is hauled out of water and a lot off work that cannot be attended to when she is in water gets a thorough look. We had planned a 15 day docking at a naval ship lift. The work package was minor and included a check of the underwater hull, a fresh coat of bottom paint and a change of underwater valves.
She came out of water on 15 September and the first thing we checked for were tell tale signs of movement of the keel. This was something so crucial that the voyage might have been called off if there was even the smallest evidence of cracks along the join of the keel to the hull. But then she is a well built Indian boat and despite her 60000 miles her keel is still intact and well secured.
With that concern out of our mind we proceeded with the rest of our work. Her bottom was relatively clean but the stay in harbours and infrequent sailings in the last one year had left a think film of barnacles and other marine growth. They tend to slow down the boat a bit which could convert to a delay of days and weeks in a voyage of six months. We scrubbed and jet washed the bottom clean and applied five coats of anti fouling paint.
Possibly the only thing that sea cannot corrode is the human spirit. Everything else whithers away. Three years in the harsh marine environment was long enough to corrode valves so much so that most of them had jammed. We replaced them before they could cause any further trouble. Similarly various leaks in the engine compartment had corroded its shock and vibration mountings. That took a bit of time because engine and shaft alignment went haywire with the new mounts. It was not something that we had expected and well prepared for.
All work happened with precision and in double quick time. The naval ship lift carried out a very precise docking and undoubtedly this has been the safest dry docking of the boat till date. Things worked out so well that we did not need to stay out of water for the duration we had anticipated. By 26 September we were already on our way to our usual mooring in the Mandovi river .
With under 30 days to go work is on in full swing. The throttle has been pushed all the way and late nights are going to be the rule. Cdr Donde has promised to join me now that things have moved into the proverbial last mile as far as preparations go. I am looking forward to his presence for no one knows the boat better than him and possibly there is no one better qualified in getting her ready for a non stop.
Check out her hull underwater.. http://youtu.be/gTIl8I4gPpI