This sailing journey chapter sees Naiad (boat) marooned in Townsville for longer than expected, for the gruelling completion of its 6-foot extension.
Need to apologise for the poor quality photos from 1997. The 35mm negatives lived on the boat in humidity for many years and then in storage on land in the sweltering heat.
Marooned in Townsville
After an amazing 6-month break cruising far north Queensland’s most pristine islands and the Great Barrier Reef from Brisbane to Townsville, then spending a few weeks playing on stunning Lizard Island, it’s now time to look for work.
As always, the 6-month working stint quickly extends into years. This time back in 1997, it’s a total of 3 years stopping in Townsville. Marooned is the word I use and you’ll see why as you read on…
If you’re thinking of building a boat and want to read about the long 9.5 years to build Naiad from its bunch of plans, then check out these chapters for your bedtime indulgence – Part 1, Part 2, launching, and completing Naiad in Sydney.
More boat work
Why so long in Townsville?
Well, during the 3-year stopover, we decide to extend Naiad in the hope that extending essentially improves Naiad’s performance, whilst also providing extra cockpit space.
Remember during the early stages of building Naiad I said that it looked as though Bruce Roberts butchered the plans of a 34′ boat – cutting the stern to make a 28′ boat? After hundreds of miles sailing and motoring, we believed this to be true.
Naiad’s sheer stern cavitates when sailing and motoring. This isn’t great for a boat as it creates drag and slows the boat down considerably. Because of this, seawater also enters through the stern’s scuppers when she cavitates or is on a heel. So, the cockpit is always wet, which is another problem to fix.
Who is mad enough to extend a boat from 28-feet to 34-feet?
You’d think that after taking almost a decade to build Naiad from its plans until the launch and fit-out that enough is enough of boat building for life.
Picture living on a boat that’s marooned on land in a very grotty slipway’s yard in far north Queensland. Incredibly sultry humid conditions invoke the growth of mould spores everywhere…
The yard’s scanty gate can barely stand up, let alone provide security for anyone inside. Overspray and dust from the slipway shroud Naiad daily, embedding itself in every crevice and orifice. Druggies and alcoholics roam up and down the fence late in the evening, breaking out in occasional fights below Naiad. You get the pain of what 6 months living in this yard is all about.
During the summer, the heat and unbearable humidity are relentless but we conjure up ways to stay cool…
Tired of scaling a ladder a couple of metres high to get into the boat. Over the lugging of grocery shopping up and down this ladder. Annoyed with going up and down the ladder to get to the loo in the middle of the night. Difficult trying to get ready in grimy conditions to look presentable for work in an office. Barely any further in this new project after 3 months of extending Naiad and realising this can’t go on any longer, I put my foot down.
Finally, the skipper quits his job after 3 months to work full time on Naiad’s extension.
How do you extend a boat?
Before starting we contacted Bruce Roberts about our intentions.
Advised to cut the boat at mid-ships (right down the middle) and extend this way, we decide against this advice. A mammoth task, which would take years and is much too expensive. Extending the waterline means faster and hopefully smoother performance so can understand why Roberts advised doing this – we may be silly but we’re not masochists.
Instead, a new reverse-transom that keeps the weight down is built and welded to Naiad’s hull.
The stern is cut out leaving an existing frame for more strength at the stern. Remember, this is trial and error. Extending Naiad’s stern is our design and hoping like hell that this works.
Lots of filling and fairing along the new join to appear seamless, then more sanding of the hull for a total re-spray and this part is finished.
Extending the stern also means extending the plumbing, steering, backstays, deck, cockpit floor, cockpit lockers, and whatever else needs extending. Then, a lot of work to make everything look seamless and not like an add-on or a botched up hobo’s boat.
Slowly but relentlessly working through all of these issues day and night – with me helping as the tradie after work each day and on weekends – and the boat is ready for a re-spray.
The goal to get out of this grubby slipway is the driving force and is all-consuming, but also to go sailing again is a priority.
During this time, we take the opportunity to also re-spray the inside of Naiad. Do you have any idea what this involves? This job is definitely masochistic! Nothing like having a couple of projects on the go when you’re also living in the boat.
Only believing this job would take a week – clearly delusional again – we start yet another daunting project of preparing Naiad for an internal re-spray of the cabin.
If you’ve ever had any experience with spraying two-pack Polyurethane paint, then you know that its fine mist gets absolutely everywhere. This job requires endless masking tape and plastic sheets.
Removing bedding and cushions then masking everything not to be painted, and giving the internal cabin areas some sanding to key the surface – all of this takes a week.
Our tiny Suzuki Carry Van, nicknamed the biscuit tin is the new bed each night – at least Naiad’s mattress fits. Why not move into a hotel? Because the boatyard isn’t secure and Naiad can’t be locked. Everything is open to thieves.
The first coat of paint looks great for the first few minutes until small air bubbles form, bubbling almost like a fizzy drink. The finish is terrible. We contact the paint’s manufacturer and of course, advised it’s our fault because of how the paint was sprayed.
Several more tins of expensive paint later. More sanding, cleaning, and re-masking. More time lost before spraying another coat only to see exactly the same result.
Demanding a Rep inspects the second spray job, he recalls the paint batch from shelves as it’s faulty. A different batch is delivered free of charge. Third time lucky?
Again, we sand, clean, and make sure everything is sealed for the final spray. The result this time is a great glossy finish.
After 3 weeks of living in our van, we finally clean Naiad and move back on for an almost normal existence. As normal as life can be on the hard (land).
Looking rather shabby but finally, Naiad travels back onto the slipway for a re-spray and the Antifoul paint.
Choosing a sunny day for the final Polyurethane topcoat to the hull, the port-side goes on and looks great. Meanwhile, a dark ominous cloud hovers overhead, but the sun still shines through patches.
Once the paint is mixed and you start spraying, you can’t stop, so the starboard-side is also sprayed. Within 10 minutes of finishing the spraying the heavens open, but it’s only a light shower that lasts several minutes.
In its wake, the shower leaves faint rain indentations in the paint’s finish – what a blow!
Deciding enough is enough after 6 months of living on land and live with this effect, so go ahead with launching Naiad.
Super happy with our 3-month effort and unique design resulting in this seamless extension.
What a fabulous feeling to be afloat again. Free from the slipway’s clutching tentacles. Months later, we careen Naiad at the piles in Townsville. Time to re-adjust the waterline and paint another coat of antifoul. It’s free careening the boat but need to be mindful of the tides.
Townsville’s Castle Hill in the background watches over Ross Creek.
Was extending worth the pain?
Definitely. Should have extended Naiad at the very beginning during the building stage after craning the hull upright. Hindsight’s a beautiful thing…
Naiad now includes a lovely roomy cockpit and her performance is much better – albeit not a racing thoroughbred – although, still fast enough for comfortable cruising.
Time to go sailing again but first, need to finish my work contract…
More boat-building chapters
Check out more of my chapters in this boat-building series!