The Big Clean

What a sorry sight that awaited us when we finally came back aboard Capri.  She has been lying in her slip here in Port Angeles for almost 1.5 years now, alone and tending to herself.

She’s fine, but looks depressingly dirty and desolate.

When we lift our dinghy, Little Capri off the coachroof and onto the dock, we can really see just how much dirt and algae there is on the deck and coachroof.  It doesn’t look any better down in the cockpit.

A sorry sight – but there is a solution for this.

Below deck, she looks like herself.  Fortunately, there is no odor of mold or mildew and apparently, there are no new mildew spots on the cushions.  Only the old spots from her time in Panama are visible.  The electric radiator we’ve had going all winter has done its job admirably, keeping the temperature high enough to keep mold and damp at bay.  Our first big shock comes when we enter the forward salon.  The wall covering has fallen down.  How do we repair that?

Looking closely, we have to admit that the floorboards in the salon are weary and the lacquer is chipped and gone in spots.  It has seen too much sun and salt water and the floor color has faded.  A big job, but the entire floor has to be taken up, sanded down to the bare wood and lacquered (at least 6 coats).  While we are at it, we might as well do the cockpit table – it is also a sorry sight.

Ok, we might as well admit it – we have our work cut out for us before we can sail up to Alaska.  With the floorboards out and sundry other projects going full blast, we can’t live on board so we park the RV in an RV park and live in her.  That means we can’t put her up for sale until we are almost finished with Capri (sigh). 

Time to roll up our proverbial sleeves and get to work!

It is a good thing that we arrived back at Capri 2 weeks before she is being hauled.  It will take us a full week to clean the deck and the cockpit with boat shampoo and a mixture of chlorine.  The dirt is so thick that a normal brush won’t make a dent; Carsten has to get out his angle drill and its brushes.  Then he has a powered rotating stiff brush that can attack the algae.  After Carsten has spent a couple of days on his knees cleaning, he can get started (on his knees) polishing the deck.  The following week we spent cleaning all the lockers.  There are twelve of them to be exact (exactness counts when you are moaning and complaining).  A number of these lockers are deep and almost impossible to get your hands all the way in to clean – at least you end up in a very uncomfortable position.  Once we had them clean, we could start laying down Chlorine soaked rags to get rid of the old mold and mildew marks (from the tropics). 

This, my friends, is a huge job – just in case you didn’t know.

Locker, before and after

Finally, we are ready to haul Capri.  We have booked a spot on the hard for her for a full week for 2 reasons;

  1. We didn’t know just how much work need to be done on her while she is on the hard.
  2. You can never be sure of how the weather gods are going to treat you  – perhaps they will think it hilarious to send heavy rains for a 3-4 days in a row, making bottom painting and polishing impossible.

It is a La Ninã year this year, so the Pacific is colder than normal.  The weather gurus have promised that we will have the coldest and wettest spring and summer ever in this area – but of course, Vinni and Carsten are here so that figures. 

Capri is lifted and hangs in the belts while Carsten high pressure cleans the algae and barnacles off.  The bottom is not as bad as we feared; actually, it is surprisingly clean.  We won’t have to sand the bottom.

For some strange reason, we got lucky regarding the weather.  Perhaps the weather gods were all off in sunny Spain making merry, but we had almost no rain the entire week, although it was cold and cloudy. 

Capri has gotten a “Harbor Smile”, meaning her hull is discolored in the bow section.  We haven’t given her a thorough polishing I almost 3 years and she desperately needs a refresher.  This is Carsten work.  I’m not tall enough to reach the full height of the bow and the polishing machine is a man’s machine – it is simply too heavy for me to work with.

But I can’t get out of the bottom painting.  I’m exactly the right height to stand under the boat the paint the bottom.  I can even do the bottom part of the side with a ladder.  Capri is treated to two coats of new bottom paint.  Our propeller also needs tender loving care and I spent many hours cleaning and polishing it until it shone like new.  Cleaning require handwork with the finest sandpaper we can buy.  I’ve seen other sailors sand with a machine, but Carsten won’t let me, saying it will scratch the surface of the propeller.  This polishing is almost as hard on me as the painting.  Each evening when we get back to Caprise, the fingers on my right hand are swollen and I almost can’t bend them.

Every evening Carsten and I drag ourselves back to Caprise, totally exhausted.  Carsten almost can’t lift his right arm from swinging the polishing machine and my right shoulder, wrist and thumb are in constant pain.  Aspirin and Tylenol help enough that we can work the next day.  We can both feel that we aren’t getting any younger.  We were nowhere this worn out when we last gave Capri the whole make-over in Denmark.  The cold and damp weather isn’t helping our lightly arthritic joints any either.

Getting old sucks (sigh).

A proud Capri with glistening deck and sides showing off her new red skirt – ready to go back in the water.

Now we’re ready for the floor.  Fortunately, the boatyard will let us work inside a huge tent they have, there are no boats going in there the next few days.  In there, even though it will be cold, Carsten can sand and lacquer the floorboards in peace.  In the meantime, now that the floorboards are all gone, I can start cleaning all the lockers.

Jesus, what a huge cleaning job.

Capri has over the years taken in some water due to leaking axle packings and when we had to change out the toilet and the toilet hoses in the Tuamotus.  When we changed out the hoses, we discovered, too late, that the shower pump that was supposed to pump the wastewater from the hoses when we changed them out into the ocean, instead pumped in under our floorboards.

What a lovely thing to have happen.

Some of our readers will remember that we emptied out over 80 liters of water from under the floor when we got to Port Angeles.  Now that all the floorboards are out we can get in under and really clean.  This is a mixture of dried salt water and unfortunately, some dried up blackish stuff that is probably frommthe hoses. 


Not only that, but there is what looks like dried up toothpaste – this is the roach powder we threw everywhere when we were fighting The Great Cockroach War in Polynesia.  We promise each other that we will never use roach powder again, only poison from spray bottles if we ever go to war again.

Concentrated chlorine and soaking rags eventually get everything clean. Capri is now clinically clean inside.

Carsten praised me for the fantastic cleaning work I did

Before Carsten remounts the floorboards, he also has to sand and lacquer the kitchen table and the handholds by the companionway.  Years of sun and salt water have taken their toll on this.  Everything gets at least 7 layers of lacquer and after a week of hard work we a completely new floor.

I praise Carsten for the wonderful work he has done

Right now Carsten is busy cleaning the backside of the wallcovering that has fallen down so it can be glued once more.  We’ve tried it twice and both times it fell down again.  Our good neighbor, Jim, has some industrial strength glue (he has been keeping a close eye Carsten’s efforts) that he claims will absolutely keep it up.  Third time is the charm – we hope.

Meanwhile, back in the cockpit, I’m amusing myself with cleaning and lubricating our six winches.  Vinni the Winch Wrench, as I also known as, is hard at work.

There’s still the small leak at the mast.  We have what is know as a keel-stepped mast, meaning the mast comes down through the coachroof and is stepped in the keel.  For whatever reason, we now have a small leak.  Carsten has been chasing it for several weeks without success. But now is going to go at it full time.

Once he is finished with that, Carsten has to change out our VHF radio with a new one.  Why do that when the old one still works?

Our old radio was “only” an international one, meaning it only received and sent on the international frequencies.  The US and Canada have a few extra frequencies they use that our old radio didn’t receive (or send) on.  These extra frequencies are, of course, exactly the ones their Coast Guards use, so we have no choice but to buy a new radio.

The new radio will allow us to not only contact the Coast Guard, but also receive local weather reports and warnings.  The weather up here can change rapidly and gribfiles may not be enough.  Weather forecasts are sent every hour up here and a prudent sailor will listen.

As we write this we aren’t completely finished with all the preparations.  Many of you wonder why you haven’t heard from us (why don’t they post?  They have nothing to do all day – right).  As you can read above – we haven’t just been lying around enjoying the rain.  Those of you who have written from Denmark telling us about having the family over for traditional Easter lunch and enjoying the sunny spring weather – well just so you know – we are not the least bit jealous – not at all.  We’d much rather sit here in the rain polishing Capri that eating a disgustingly huge Easter lunch.

A little note here as we publish this – we ARE done with our preparations and so there is only one thing left to do and that is give Capri bouquet of flowers to thank her for waiting so patiently for our return.

Thank you Capri

We’ll haul in our lines and go to sea next week, so you will get one last blog before we depart.

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