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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

September 2010 - Labor Day Cruise to Moody Gardens

September 3rd, 4th, 5th & 6th - Labor Day at Moody Gardens -Galveston, TX

The weekend was great until the day we were heading home. The weather was not good.

Heading out of Moody, rainbow in the sky.
All was good UNTIL...
We had a serious grounding, and at least used the opportunity to learn more about our boat! We were on the west side of the Galveston Causeway bridge and were given permission to proceed through by the bridgemaster.
Just as we were about to pass through, we were told to pull back as there were two tows approaching sooner than expected. Because of wind conditions, we were instructed to wait and "hug the reds".

Now - a little background info...Several years ago the Old Galveston Causeway bridge was replaced by a new Interstate bridge. The old bridge was demolished by dynamite and removed per the Corps of Engineers.

They must have missed a piece...

We were bobbing in about 15 feet of water, patiently waiting, when a gust of wind caught us and the next thing we heard was a horrible CRUNCH, and we were stuck, heeled over about 20 degrees. As all good yachtsmen know, one cannot remain on the hard or wave action will destroy your boat. After several attempts to back off with no luck, I told Barb to cover her ears, and I put it into forward and powered off the offending concrete.

The noises were painful. We immediately searched for signs of leaks... whew! none!

We then had to get the boat home, up the Houston ship channel (about 20 miles) to our home port. On that leg, we hit some unbelievably bad weather. An unscheduled front rolled though, and we had a near white-out. It was so rough that a sailboat following us was screaming that they saw our prop! After 3 hours of hell we put Last Trade back in her slip and had a diver go down to look for damage. He told us that there was alot of gelcoat ripped off, but it didn't look as bad as it must have sounded. He said nothing about the running gear. We then made arrangements to pull the boat in the next week for repairs. As they lifted the boat out of the water in the slings, I was on one side and Barb on the other. Once the hull was visible, we both said OMG!!!! (and lots of other not-so-nice expletives) The keel had 17 measured feet of gelcoat and glass damage, the prop looked like a piece of ravioli, and the rudder post was bent.

We had the gelcoat/glass repaired by an expert, complete bottom job, took care of the nibral prop (we had it cupped slightly to improve performance) and had a machine shop straighten the rudder post. After they straightened it, numerous hairline cracks (how deep?) were visible where the rudder blade meets the rudder post. We then insisted on a new rudder. It turns out (per the machine shop) that the old rudder was made of 304 stainless. It is not a 2" rudderpost, it is 50mm. We had the new one fabricated out of 316 stainless. Better than new.

The fiberglass where the rudder post enters the boat is 3-3/4" thick. No damage. The yard removed the entire rudder packing gland, which is a heavy bronze casting (lower inside flange approx 1/2" thick) and we discovered that the impact actually slightly deformed the base of the inside assembly. The outer hull plate was also deformed and a new one had to be fabricated.

After thinking more about this accident and what could have happened, we wondered what our fate would have been if we had "knocked off" a thru hull. We now have installed a Rule 4000 "keep me floating" bilge pump mounted about 12" above the lowest part of the bilge for emergencies.

Net result:

Yard costs: $1600
Machine shop: $1000
Fiberglass repair/ bottom job: $3000
Mechanical work/Prop: $4000
The look on my face as I paid the bill: priceless.