Sunday, August 7, 2016

Beaching Soggy Paws

Yesterday we did something that we never could have done with the old Soggy Paws... we beached the cat on a nice sloping beach and did some maintenance on the underwater side.

High and Dry Doing Underwater Maintenance

It's new moon time, and the tidal range is bigger than normal, with higher highs and lower lows than other times of the month. High tide was supposed to be at 8am, so we got up early and started watching the tide mark we had set at high tide the previous evening. As soon as we saw the tide definitely going down, we started getting ready to go up on the beach. At 0810, we started engines to pull our anchor and head for the beach.

Snuggled Up to the Mangroves

We had measured depths of the water in the sand spot we had picked out, and knew we would have to nose right up to the bushes on the beach, to be in shallow enough water. We tied a rope onto a strong bush on shore and brought it out into the water, secured with a dive weight and a small buoy, to be ready to tie a bow line to.

As we slowly headed in to the beach, we dropped a Fortress anchor from the stern. This whole maneuver would have been difficult with just two of us, but we have 2 crew for the trip to Palau, and they made it easy. With Sherry driving, Liko on the stern with the stern anchor, Dave on the bow with the bow line, and Claudia in the water with a mask and snorkel, we carefully positioned Soggy Paws a few inches above the sand in as level a spot as we could find. We had to nudge the bow over a little to level things out, and tied a 3rd line off to the side to maintain our position.

Claudia Updates Dave on How We Are Positioned

So we touched the bow to the sand, and then just waited for the tide to go down. Claudia started positioning boards under our keels, to keep us from sinking in the sand too much.

Claudia Positions the First Set of Boards

Liko and Dave with the Last Board

We had tried to buy a sheet of 1/2" plywood in Sorong for this purpose, but none was available. So we ended up with a 1x8" plank, cut in 2 ft segments. We used 4 boards crosswise along the bottom of the keel.

And we picked up a little more wood from the beach to brace up underneath the rudders, which ended up sitting about 1 ft over the sand. By 0915 we had all 8 boards in place and the front end of the keel was firmly grounded. An hour later and the boat was nearly completely out of the water, and we started on the maintenance tasks.

Boards Buried in the Sand Under the Keel

Supports Under the Rudder

While we were out, we did the following:

- Changed the zincs in the saildrives
- Repaired a few nicks in the saildrives with epoxy
- Painted the new prop blade with antifoul
- Checked and adjusted the angles on all the prop blades
- Scrubbed the waterline
- Changed the oil in the port engine

One Of the SailDrive Zincs, New and Old

Claudia and Liko got a chance to break away while Dave was working on the saildrives, to go snorkel in the reef nearby, which we had previously seen.

We had an early dinner, and just waited for the tide to come up. At 7:30pm, the first board floated free, and by 8pm we had pulled ourselves backward via the stern anchor and were fully off the beach.

It was pitch black out--no moon, no stars, and a low overcast. But we had the anchor waypoint marked, so maneuvering "on instruments", I was able to get positioned over the anchor spot. It took 2 tries to get it right--the first time we ended up a little too close to the reef on one side. Too far out, and we're in 80-100 feet, and too far in, we'd swing over the shallow reef. By 8:30pm we were safely anchored. Long day, but worth it to get the zincs changed.

At 8/5/2016 12:40 AM (utc) our position was 00°46.78'S 130°44.82'E

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