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Monday, November 9, 2015

Oy! Underwater Forest – Our Hull;(.


Before cleaning, our hull and bottom sported
the colors of an Avatar forest floor.
We’re all for preserving reefs and ecosystems – except – when they develop where they’re not supposed to -- attached to our hull’s antifouling!

In the verdantly polluted American Samoa Pago Pago harbor, we were thrilled to pay resident “cruiser” Joe $50 to clean our hull.  That was only about 7 weeks ago.  One week more in American Samoa after Joe’s cleaning.  Then travel
  • to and through Tonga’s Niue island group to Niuatoputapu (aka “New Potato”)
  • various Tonga Vava’u island group anchorages, and
  • at our third stop in Tonga’s Ha’apai island group at Ha’afeva

We knew we couldn’t wait anymore. 


Our rudder (shown here) and waterline were the favorite spots
for gooseneck barnacles to attach.
Drew of Firefly figured we were losing at least ¼ knot in speed and maybe even as much as a knot per hour due to drag from much on our hull. 

















Yet, we were full of excellent excuses to procrastinate
  1. We were often between passages – can't clean your boat bottom while you’re under sail
  2. Anchorages pristine enough didn’t want to pollute them with our hull scrapings
  3. Anchorages with an abundance of effluence (that’s a nice word for s---) in the water due to a LOT of cruisers or downstream from a village
  4. It was too windy, cold, cloudy or raining
  5. The water was too cold or too cloudy too what we were doing
  6. There’s jellyfish or sharks or some other sea creature we’re not keen on sharing our work area with
  7. We wanted to have fun
  8. We were too tired, too lazy or
  9. Just to plain grossed out by the task – our single biggest reason for procrastinating


Close-up of gooseneck barnacles on Journey, our Pearson 365 
sailboat’ the “before” on our overdue bottom cleaning.
With a trip an 1,100+  mile passage coming up, from Tonga’s Nuku’alofa to Minerva Reef then New Zealand, we knew we didn’t want to sail the extra hours our underwater forest would entail. 

It was time for clear-cutting.

The biggest drag, mostly at our waterline was gooseneck barnacles plus a few more traditional types of barnacles.  In addition we had a kaleidoscope variety of moss-like growth in ferny blue-violet, slimy pond-scum green, fuzzy red, white worm-like tubes, crusty sections and fuzzy sections, and black splotches.

Cleaning takes gently running a metal scraper at a 45 degree angle against every inch of our hull, from just above the water line, down to the keel (exterior bottom) of the boat.  It’s a lot of square footage!

The process takes only a couple of hours (four or so total between the two of us on our Pearson 365, a 36.5 foot sailboat with a 4 ½ foot draft), but it’s messy. 


At least a dozen of these cuttlefish – a member of the squid family --
hovered near our boat’s bow and anchor chain when
we were cleaning our hull in Ha’afeva,
inTonga’s Ha’apai group of islands.
Most of the time, you’re trying to work an area that’s rolling, fighting to hold your position with a current trying to drag you past the tail end of our boat.  Every bit that’s scraped, drifts through the same water where you’re working.  It feels a little like dumpster diving in antigravity.

And then it’s done!

“I’m paying someone to do it next time,” Wayne declared, pooped after power-scraping the propeller, keel and the various parts I left to him after doing my turn first.

“I don’t mind doing my ¾ of the job,” I countered.

“Fine,” Wayne replied.  “Then all I have to do is pay someone to finish my last quarter.”

In fact, on a 39 mile sail (detours included), from Ha’efeva, where we finally cleaned our hull, to Kelefesia (both in Tonga’s Ha’apai group of islands), we sailed a knot faster that we expected, arriving over 2 hours earlier than we expected.  That even includes several deliberate slow-downs for “fish-on!”  We figure about half of that extra speed was due to our cleaner hull, the other half due to better than expected winds. 

We arrived sooner than our normally much faster friends on Armagh, who made up for some of the speed at the end by motoring in.  Of course, Steve, chagrined, admitted their delay was due to the too-late realization their dinghy wheels were down, behaving much like a sea anchor.

Even at half that distance, 20 miles at 4.5 knots instead of 4 knots, arriving a half hour sooner is enough time to anchor, button down the boat and be enjoying a gin and tonic in the cockpit to enjoy the yacht-ertainment (aka “Yacht tv”) of our fellow cruisers arrival. 

Over a longer passage, not arbitrarily 1,100 miles (Tonga’s Nuku’alofa to Opua New Zealand), hypothetically, here’s how much time we’d save thanks to our cleaned hull….

Uncleaned hull
1,100 miles/4 knots/hour = 275 hours/24 = 11.5 days @ 4 knots/hour average

Cleaned hull
1,100 miles/4.5 knots/hour = 244 hours/24 = 10.2 days @ 4.5 knots/hour average

Time saved on a 1,100 mile passage
 11.5 days for an uncleaned hull
-10.2 for a cleaned hull = 
1.3 days x24 = 31.2 hours

Regardless, we both agree we need a new bottom job when we’re in New Zealand.  That means hauling the boat out of the water in a boat yard, regardless of who does the labor.

Last time, back in November, we used West Marine’s red anti-foul paint, a good paint.  However, we are regretting not insisting on a third antifouling bottom coat when we were in Green Cove Springs.  Completing the bottom job became a gating departure item, and we decided the time was right to go.


Kelefesia, Tonga’s Ha’apai group of islands.  We arrived here
after our hull cleaning an hour earlier than we expected.  Hooray!
In New Zealand, we are definitely going for three coats of anti-fouling bottom paint, regardless of how often we clean it after that, and who does it.

Once again, cruiser Larry Howarth of JacariMaru’s favorite bottom job quip comes to mind, “Everyone loves a girl with a clean bottom.”

Yes, we are no exception, Larry.

Location Location:
This post was pre-published from Nuku'alofa, TONGA outside Big Mama's Yacht Club (S21 07.134 W175 09.622).  When it posts we will be underway to New Zealand, with a possible stopover in Minerva Reef (S23 37 W178 57).  We expect to arrive in Opua New Zealand (S35.19 E174.07) in mid-November.


Cruising Progress by the Numbers
We started our cruising season December 7th 2014, from Jacksonville FL NAS, USA. 
By the time we arrive in New Zealand in November, less than a year from when we set out, we expect we’ll sail over 10,000 miles this year.  That’s a lot of miles for a boat with a hull speed of 7 knots; we usually sail far slower than that.

 The prior 2 years combined, we sailed 3762 miles.