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Boating: That sickening thud sound.... Part II

January 25, 2012
by boatguy Ed , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

In the first part of this column, I described how an inattentive boater forced us out of the channel and high up onto a sand bar and how my boat was extracted. This second part will explain the resurrection of my "Bijou!"

My favorite towing company left the boat at "Joosey Archie's" dock because he has a boatlift that is close to my boat's size. After I signed the towing invoice, the Captain wished me well and told me that the bill would have been well over $3,000 including the hours spent coming to and bringing the boat home and then returning to their dock. The rate is based on the salvage rate not the soft grounding rate. Glad I paid those yearly fees.

Once we got the boatlift working (it had been idle for years) the boat came out of the water quickly. All the "Dead End Canal Yacht Club" members who live on the canal were there to give advice. "The bottom is badly scarred," said Run-aground Ralph. He should know what he's talking about but he didn't.

"That prop needs a lot of work. At least one new blade, if it can be saved at all," said Cap'n Crunch.

"I'll get the spare," I said and walked home. When I returned there was general mayhem breaking out as a bunch of old guys, the 'DECYC' members, were arguing about the correct technique to remove the aluminum wheel.

I settled it quickly. I had the stainless steel replacement on in a matter of a few minutes. "Buffalo Bob" acted as parts holder during the operation because balancing on the lift while working with small parts is a guarantee that some would fall in the water.

"I always use Bonita Props," said one member, which led to another loud disagreement. I placed the wounded prop in the spare prop bag and drove it over to the local boat yard. The nice lady tagged it and gave me a receipt. There would be a $25 handling fee but my prop company doesn't pick up at homes, and I didn't want to drive to Cape Coma.

Upon returning, I found four dinghies under the boatlift with a total of eleven independent opinions. They were examining the bottom and, as I sat on the dock, they gave me a running report of the condition ranging between 'no problems' to 'structural failure.' I decided to remove the boat from the canal because there was no way I could get anything done.

I lowered the boatlift after warning the inspectors, against my better judgment. I'd had a chance to closely inspect the outboards lower portion and was confident that the case wasn't holed. I cranked the motor a few times before putting it in gear. I was trying to determine if the gears were intact. No clanking or clunking so I put it into reverse and backed it out of the lift.

I called 'Boat Repair Bobby' who has a forklift, and he told me to bring it over. The members beat me there but I ordered them to stay back until the boat was on the stands. That pleased Bob because he's well aware of their spastic nature. While I was pressure washing the bottom I had to shoot a few streams of high-pressure water at them to keep them at bay.

There was a lot of paint missing and some of the epoxy had been scraped away by the Oyster shells but no gouges in the hull. "How much fiber-glassing are you going to do?" I duck walked around underneath one more time and was sure. "None, but I'll need a quart of epoxy undercoat and some more of the world's best bottom paint," I said.

"Maybe it's time to enter the 21st century with some of that new bottom paint," said "Edison Alvin." He's from Edison, New Jersey, which is just a stone throw from a competitor, the Pettit paint company. Alvin is a die-hard fan despite overwhelming evidence that 'Super Shipbottom' is at least as good as any of their paints and probably better. I don't want to brag, but clean bottoms don't lie.

I just chuckled and took to sanding off the damaged coatings. We'd all had long discussions about what are the best boat maintenance products and almost everyone still believes that the best is made 'up North.' In my garage I have an obscenely large sign that reads, "I don't care how they did up North!" Don't get me wrong, 99 percent of 'up North' stuff is great but the time wasted listening to how they did it, seriously delays projects.

My wife, the president of the company that makes 'Super Shipbottom,' donated a half gallon of blue bottom paint and I bought a quart of West Marine Underwater Epoxy. Does anyone remember when they were cheap? The job was moving along nicely but drying times make for convenient interruptions. So we adjourned to a favorite watering hole.

As we entered, the cry of the blue-topped Snow Bird could be heard. "Warufram, warufram, warufram," rang throughout the place. None of them appreciate the answer, Pennsyltuckey for some reason. Thanks to all my helpers, "Bijou III" is back in the water. Good as new or as good as an old boat can be!

Boatguy Ed is a retired boat paint maker, television producer and all around drip under pressure. Send questions and comments to Visit the 'Dead End Canal Yacht Clubs' Facebook page,



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