Obelix – Mission ‘Epoxy’, la revancha

Or how it took seven of us to take care of Obelix' "down there"...
Obelix: ‘Mission Epoxy’ – the finishing crew

We had a mission: Covering Obelix’ hull, below the waterline, with 4-6 more coats of epoxy resin. May sound easy, but not so much when you consider that:

  • the surface to cover was 43 sqm with all sorts of angles to screw anyone’s back;
  • this job could only be done by dry weather, and we’re dangerously approaching winter on this side of the world with a chance of rain close to 100% per day;
  • the epoxy needs to be mixed (resin + hardener) in small batches, otherwise it takes off in an exothermic reaction and the batch is wasted;
  • the application needed to be as thick as possible but still avoiding run-offs
  • the coats needed to be applied ‘wet on wet’, meaning we needed to be fast enough to go round the boat to recover each coat before the previous one had dried, or else we would have had to wait a night and sand the surface again to carry on;
  • the days are getting damn short (given it’s nearly winter on this side of the world);
  • we don’t have any family nearby to look after our children or help us in any way out of plain family duty.

And in fact, we had tried to do it just the two of us last week-end and miserably failed…

This time we had a plan:

  1. Leave our children behind to our neighbours and/or friends
  2. Bribe as many friends as we could to give away half their weekend to come and travel to Whangarei (300 km return) to give us a hand. This included preparing a feast for morning tea / lunch to keep their tummy happy.
  3. Use colloidal silica to thicken the resin and avoid nasty run-offs
  4. Get up early to maximise daytime work
  5. Dance to Tāwhirimātea (the local Weather God) to get a decent Saturday

I’m glad to say that out of these 5 mission critical conditions, we only missed one, failing to find friends to look after our children.

It was an epic race against the clock, however – warning, spoiler alert – we won!!!

Our eternal gratitude has to go to our fabulous crew: Lis and Carlos, who drove up on Friday night arriving around midnight, Rimma, who nearly woke us all up rocking up at 7am the following day, closely followed by our tango friend Mark. And my former workmate Beatrix who joined us mid-morning after a failed attempt at shooting the sunrise on a decidedly foggy morning.

Obelix: ‘Mission Epoxy’ – the starting crew

Special mention to Tāwhirimātea too, who slighlty delayed our early start by a thick fog leaving droplets of water in the air until 9:30*, but only released the much dreaded rain at the end of day when most of the work was already done and safe.

So all is well that ends well. Despite the fog in the morning, despite the bored children who had no attention from their parents and only two films on a tiny laptop to keep them entertained, despite the rollers who kept disintegrating after a few minutes use, despite my stress levels skyrocketing towards the end of the day when I realised we were only half way through the epoxy jerrican (which we were supposed to empty).

No friendship was hurt during the process, the boat looks great, and the rain gave us an excuse to cook crêpes as soon as we got home on Sunday. With the Dulce de Leche brought back by Bea freshly returned from Patagonia, it was simply divine!

Obelix: Mission ‘Epoxy’ + sanding done

Obélix, our new baby

All things considered, perhaps conceiving a third child would have been simpler...

Boats and babies have much in common: from day one they require a lot of undivided attention to fulfill their destiny and (your) dreams, they’re full of surprises – you never quite know what will come next, and they add a new line on your budget. Although I must say, the baby’s designers certainly had user experience in mind budget-wise. Indeed, it starts very softly with next to nothing required in the first months. A few nappies is all babies need to begin with, besides their mummy’s milk and parent’s love which are both free. Then the curve slowly picks up at a sensible rate, one you can manage as you progress through your life.
On the other hand, boats budget is aggressive straight from the get go and it seems that the new currency is by unit of $50. If it’s for a boat, nothing costs less than $50, not even individual basic mast steps which really are nothing more than metal bended in a triangular shape! (I know that thanks to Claire and Thomas with whom we’ve been sharing quite a lot on boat treatment and equipment, since they’re undertaking a major refit of their beloved Schnaps right now. I guess we’re lucky to have mast steps already fitted onto ours, 23 to be exact). So here our experience confirms the first saying that welcomed us in the world of boaties. But nothing is too dear if it brings us on the path to happiness…

Shakti mat, ukulele and path to happiness

So we bought a boat

And quickly got to learn the meaning of the word… Indeed, comments abound when you start telling people you’ve bought a boat, and you suddenly get pitchforked into the not-so-secret society of boaties. A special race of people who talk, think, and breath boat, and expect you, now that you’re one of them, to have become a boat expert, overnight. Which makes me reflect, there are two types of people in the world, those who don’t have a boat (and wish they had) and those who do (and whose partners probably wish they didn’t).

Anyway, I thought I’d start with a few quotes related to our new status.

B.O.A.T. = Bring On Another Thousand

“The two happiest days of a boater’s life are the day they buy a boat and the day they sell it.” – Anonymous

“He that will not sail till all dangers are over must never put to sea.” – Thomas Fuller

“Now – bring me that horizon.” – Last line from Pirates of the Caribbean

“A tourist remains an outsider throughout his visit; but a sailor is part of the local scene from the moment he arrives.” – Anne Davison

The latter is what made me personally want to sail again. As I deeply felt it from the moment I set foot on Waiheke Island after sailing there for the first time 8 (?) years ago all by ourselves on Footsteps. No matter how short a trip it had been, it was all there already, the sense of entitlement, pride, and belonging.