The rudder problems turned out to be just a couple of bearings. Easy enough to repair, but it would require for Ah Ma to be lifted out again. This has become quite an expensive undertaking at the Opua boat yard. The steep price increases of the last year have made a haul out at splash for Ah Ma cost around 60% more than when we arrived. But with the rudders not grinding like they were lubricated with sand I had no choice. Moving the boat around in the Marina alone was quite an exercise, but with a little help from the girls at the marina office we managed to push Ah Ma back in the travel lift.
When Ah Ma was hauled out again, the bottom was very clean, the electronic sonic antifaul system clearly did it’s job. You could see on surfaces that where not connected to the hull, like the bow thruster hatch and rudder blades, the growth was significantly more.
The haul out should not take more than a week, but I will not be staying aboard whilst the boat is on the hard. I need a working toilet and shower, and a usable kitchen. I booked a motel in Pahia for the first evening as it was Waitangi day, a very busy public holiday, and this was the only thing available. The motel was not good at all, so I moved on to a small apartment complex on Russel, the Fantail mill. This was a lot better, although it did mean I had to take the Ferry every day to get to Opua. This brought back memories from my days on Bermuda, where we took a ferry to work every day.
Finding the correct bearings was easy. At first I was advised to asked the mechanics at Sea power, but they came up with an unworkable solution. They would first need to haul the boat out, see what bearings to use, and then have them made locally. A proposition that would take weeks, if not months, especially during the end-of-year shutdowns. But after some email exchanges with Bavaria, the boat builder, in Germany and Jeffa, the rudder manufacturers, in Denmark we found the correct parts. And of course SVB in Germany had them in stock for me. One week later they arrived in New Zealand without issues.
A good sailing friend of mine recommended Steve to me, a mechanic that would be able to help drop the rudders out. This is definitely not a one man job. And so said, so was done, a couple of days later, in the New Zealand summer rains, we were hammering on the rudder stalks. Without any big issues the two rudder blades came out and where now lying under the boat. The aluminum shafts had some signs of corrosion, most likely from sitting still next to a steel ferry for a couple of years. I sanded the corrosion out painted the corroded tops with Durapox, an epoxy based aluminum primer. This sealed the tops and made them smooth again.
I also made use of the opportunity to have some through hulls replaced as they were bleeding pinkish corrosion. And together with Steve we plumbed an engine flushing systems that would allow for fresh water to be pushed through the engine and generator in order to flush the salt water out.
This became an expensive lesson in plumbing and diesel engines. While testing the system for leaks I had the fresh water tap open with the trough-hull opening closed. This caused the pressurized water to come over the exhaust elbow into the engine. Not a good thing, as water and oil make one hell of a mess. Luckily, Steve had seen this happen many times before. But then with seawater entering the engine from the exhaust, and was not worried at all that we could get this fixed in the water.
So just in time for Linda’s arrival Ah Ma was put back in the Marina work berth. The rudders were working better than new. As for the Engine, we popped up the rocker cover of the engine to asses the damage and suck out the oil and water sludge. I had to wait a couple of days for a new seal to arrive, but when everything was put together, the engine ticked over like a Swedish clock. Just a bit of steam, but that was to be expected.
The weather had turned for the worse, the rain made place for a storm with rain. So much even that the Auckland airport flooded and the road from the North to Auckland was blocked in several places. All this just one day before Linda is supposed to arrive.
Nevertheless, it was time for me to make the long drive up to Auckland to pick up Linda. With Ah Ma just being ready in time for her first sea trails.