It’s hard to believe we’ve been away from Mexico for a year! Since returning to the States, we’ve been based in Ventura, California, at beautiful Safe Harbor Ventura Isles Marina. Although we’re comfortably ensconced aboard Tangaroa, it’s been a weird year, covid notwithstanding. I’ve been having a really hard time focusing, have found myself lacking mental energy, and I’ve curled inward as a critical awakening rises up within me as my 60th birthday looms. I spend quite a bit of time walking around the local peaceful bird refuge, a 5 minute walk from our slip.
Incessant high winds sweeping along the coast frequently create rough seas, keeping us stuck to the dock. Everyone we know (and based on our past experience with previous boats on the coast) says that the winds this year have been the worst in ages. Strong winds, that tend to switch 180 degrees during the day, make for rough seas & terrible diving conditions. As a result, we’ve been stuck at the dock much more often than anticipated. While it is lovely here, and we have a lot of friends, and it’s a quick drive into town, we’re getting frustrated as the weather keeps us from being at sea. We’ve also made a number of trips back and forth to Arizona and Colorado to take care of business, which has periodically taken us away from Tangaroa.
Fortunately, we have a most comfortable, luxurious floating home in our beautiful Maritimo 51! Daily life aboard the boat is not much different than living in a nice waterfront condo. With all the comforts of home, the main differences are that we have to ensure the boat is properly tied to the dock and we make our own water with our SpotZero watermaker, which purifies and remineralizes the dock water for deliciously pure drinking water. Like any home, it requires care & cleaning. Although with this home, we have to wash the outside as well as keep the inside tidy! Keeping any investment in excellent condition keeps the value of it, too.
One of the most important things to do with a vessel is to properly maintain it. In addition to its yearly engine service, the boat also needs an annual haul-out to keep the exterior, from roof to keel, in prime condition. While we are at the dock, Tom & I spend quite a bit of time washing the boat, polishing the stainless rails, and making sure Tangaroa looks beautiful; it addition to helping the boat keep its value, it’s much nicer to live on a clean vessel, and the boat even seems happier. Here, in Ventura, a lot of dust & dirt blows in, carried on offshore winds from all the nearby agricultural fields . When the winds switch direction and blow off the ocean, it brings fine sand in from the beach that is just outside the marina. Every other week or so, we get out all the supplies and wash our “house” down from top to waterline, a job that takes about 2-5 hours.
After a year in the hot southern sun, and cruising the salty sea, Tangaroa needed a good wax & polish, a bottom paint job, and a few other ministrations that are more than we can do on our own. To do that, we headed back to Newport Beach to Basin Marine where our Maritimo was initially outfitted.
It’s always so nice to be at sea, and we got lucky with decent conditions for this 8-hour trip. We dial in the GPS, set the autopilot, and the boat maintains its heading. I spend most of the time on the flybridge, and on the back deck, bird watching & keeping an eye out for marine wildlife, potential hazards, and other boat traffic. We take turns watching the helm while the other naps, chills out, or when I’m down in the galley making meals.
After slaloming through dozens of massive container ships piled high with cargo outside the Port of Los Angeles, we turn into the long channel around Balboa Island that winds past beautiful homes and flotillas of boats, and tie up in the slip Basin Marina has assigned us. In the morning, the boat will be lifted out of the water then set carefully onto stands in dry dock. It’s amazing to see your home lifted clear from where it safely floats high into the air.
We stay aboard the boat while in dry dock. Basin Marine provides a tall ladder that allows us a way to get off & on. We’re able to plug in to electric while we’re here so we can cook and operate lights, appliances, & other electrical items without running the house batteries down. Because we are not in the water we can’t run the generator, which uses seawater as a coolant. However, gray water from the kitchen & bathroom sinks normally runs into the sea and being in dry dock means we have to be careful not to use our sinks or when cooking & washing up the galley. We use the marina bathrooms to shower & wash up. It’s a bit more like camping, or, I suppose glamping! (Like an RV, the boat has a large blackwater tank, which is either pumped out or, as is done with all vessels, macerated and dumped overboard when far off the coast.)
Tom & I take good care of the boat, and try to keep the hull as clean as possible. Any boat that sits in the water gets marine creatures growing on it. Barnacles, worms, and other little critters, along with marine algae, know that if it floats, they will come! While we can easily keep the vessel clean above the waterline, it’s harder below. When we are at sea, we check the hull on every dive. If we see any growth, we grab some light brushes and spend some time gently scrubbing the hull. With scuba tanks on, it’s easy to crawl along the hull and clean off growth. Getting barnacles & worms off metal, however, is a different story. We’ll hire a dive service at the marina to do a really good scrubbing of those parts! Keeping growth off the hull and running gear improves boat performance, lowers fuel and operational costs, sustains the value of the vessel, and keeps the vessel’s running gear looking its best.
Because we knew we were coming down to the boatyard, we didn’t bother giving the hull a super good cleaning beforehand. Still, when the boat was lifted out of the water, there was some growth around the waterline, where sunlight strikes the hull, and mainly on the underwater lights, trim tabs, & zinc anodes. There’s even a screen on the bottom of the vessel that, we learned, is a ground should the boat get hit by lightening! That needed a good cleaning, too.
We’ve been bringing our boats to Basin Marine since 2007 (when we lived in Santa Barbara and had a 35 ft Cabo flybridge). They are a professional, skilled, efficient & trustworthy team. Our Maritimo was outfitted at Basin when we first took delivery of the boat 2 years ago. Like a well-oiled machine, everyone at Basin plays a role in getting the yacht out of the water, into dry dock, and doing whatever task is required. The dry dock process begins when a huge hoist, called a marine travel lift, rolls out over the water on a special platform. Slings are lowered from the lift and secured beneath the boat’s hull. Powerful motors then lift the boat; cradled in the slings, the travel lift is guided into the boatyard. As soon as Tangaroa was lifted from the water, one of the guys blasted the hull with a powerful sprayer, knocking marine growth off the bottom. Once the hull was clean, the lift carried the boat into the space allotted for it in the yard. That the huge vehicle, cradling expensive boats over pavement, can be moved with such precision is amazing! It’s constantly moving vessels up, down, and around making a lot of noise in the process. Dry dock is not a quiet place!
The vessel weighs over 23 tons dry. With water & fuel, and all of our personal gear, dive equipment, and Highfield tender with a 40 hp Yamaha engine, the vessel must weigh at least 25 tons! Seeing it up in the slings, then lowered onto stands & blocks is always heart-stopping. But these guys have it down to a science: boats much larger than our rest easily and we can stay on the boat all the while it’s in dry dock. No sooner was Tangaroa on stands, the cradling slings were removed, the travel lift rolled away, and team at Basin went to work. A couple of guys started to polish the propellers & shafts. These underwater metal parts are painted with a special super-slick compound called Propspeed that prevents corrosion & keeps marine organisms from growing on them.
While they were at work, another couple of guys wrapped the hull in plastic to keep dust & debris from getting onto the new paint. They use a special anti-fouling paint called Interlux that retards marine growth.
We also had custom stainless handrails built to our specifications by a metal artisan in Mexico. Installed on the swim step, these offer not only additional safety when we’re on the back end of the boat, but also add a nice aesthetic and finishing touch to Tangaroa. It’s also a good place to hang towels and mount our outside shower! The shape of the rounded rails gives them their name of staples. We also changed the hailing port: rather than Prescott, AZ, the boat now officially hails from Ridgway, CO, since we’ll be moving there.
For a few days, teams crawled over, under, and around the boat. In the end, Tangaroa was super shiny, the hull nice & black, and the propellers & shafts looking great when the travel lift once again returned our home to the water. It took another day or two to finish the wax & polish as the team buffed every inch of the vessel to a brilliant shine, including the stainless steel. Even the anchor looked brand new – and we use it a lot! In fact, we’re heading to Catalina Island after this week at the spa. Tangaroa is ready for adventure!