Once I got her home to San Francisco, the first job on Moli was a quick haul at KKMI in Richmond.
While at anchor in Hanalei Bay the month before, I dove on the hull and found two lengthwise scratches in the new bottom paint so expertly sprayed into place by the guys at Homer Boat Yard.
Both scratches were narrow but four or five feet long and both looked to have penetrated through the gray barrier coat all the way to the aluminum. How they got there was a mystery. The water was murky and my mask, uncorrected for eyes that now need bifocals; so, what I saw was disturbing but not definitive. In any case, there was nothing to be done from such a remote location except to get the boat home.
Viewed from a position on the hard, the scratches turned out to be so minor as to not warrant the haul (or a photograph, apparently), but alarming was a persistent drip coming from the forward edge of the keel. Some digging into the drip point revealed a deep, long crack into thick fairing compound.
It took me some moments to recall that the leading edge of the keel has a “false nose.” I’d learned this from Tony Gooch while Mo was still in the shed in Alaska. Here we’d been happily blasting the hull to bright aluminum when we encountered multi-colored layers of fairing at the bow.
Baffled, I reached out to Tony, who explained that the original leading edge was a blunt, right-angle. Not surprisingly he’d wanted something more aerodynamic for his 25,000-mile, singlehanded, non-stop circumnavigation in 2002, so he had a rounded cowling fashioned from aluminum, welded into place and faired.
There had been no drip coming from the bow while the boat was on the hard in Homer; thus, the crack must have formed after the paint job. My best guess is that we put too much pressure on this spot while Mo was in transport by trailer from the shed to the Homer Spit boat ramp.
As the saying goes, “one thing led to another,” and before the afternoon was out I’d removed an area of wet fairing about two feet by four. The aluminum under this was indeed light and hollow and very clearly welded onto the center-of-the-earth dense main keel. Still, the drip persisted, so I poked a few holes in the cowling to drain the water and then let the whole dry out for several days.
Once dry, I brightened the metal with a stainless steel wire wheel and filled the drill holes with West System epoxy mixed with colloidal silica before applying the larger first batch of fairing, here the brick-red West 407 Low Density Filler.
Low Density filler is difficult to smooth, especially while holding a heavy orbital sander over one’s head, so the minor flaws I filled with West Microlight 410.
The result was as smooth and shapely as the original and had the added advantage of not leaking any water.
To waterproof the area, I applied three, thick coats of Interlux Interprotect 2000E two-part epoxy and then applied the first coat of bottom paint, Epaint SN-1, before the epoxy had fully kicked.
Then I gave the entire bum two more coats of bottom paint because there’s just no such thing as too much bottom paint.
At the suggestion of the lift operator, I not only marked the sling positions but also the aft end of the cowling so as to avoid setting the boat down on that weak-point in future.
Just before splashing, I asked the operator for a reading from the lift scales. Report: 40,000 lbs. By way of comparison, the lift in Homer pegged the boat’s weight at 32,000 lbs, but at the time Mo was without her mast or water, and this was well before my epic Costco runs (note plural). Months later, I departed Hawaii with full water and fuel tanks (nearly 200 gallons each) and enough stores to survive at least one post-nuclear holocaust, very little of which was used on the short ride home.
Upshot: whether or not she’s actually 40,000 lbs loaded, she’s is, without doubt, a heavy displacement boat.