Croatia Boatyard: Leak Busting and a Bora Wind 3

20th July: A very relieved Emerald crew are now floating again and so far so good: the bilge is dry! We’ve bravely left the safety cocoon of Murter to venture a few miles north for a few easy days. Life in a boatyard can be hard work physically. There’s all the sanding, painting, climbing up and down ladders and staging and lifting around of heavy things. Working in the 30+ degree centigrade heat didn’t help much either. The stress of knowing whether we’d fixed the leaks or not and the noise of the boatyard (sometimes they started at 6am) meant we’d not had a decent night’s sleep in weeks. Being back floating last night, we slept like logs.

Preparing for painting the boot top stripe
Preparing for painting the boot top stripe

Emerald now has a newly painted, green boot top stripe and between 3 and 4 coats of fresh antifoul on her hull. We used a mixture of Jotun Seaqueen left over from the last time we painted and Hempel Mille NCT, which was available locally. The Hempel went on much easier and had a larger coverage rate than the Jotun. Whether it was due to the age of the paint, heat or the paint’s composition we’re not sure. The blue paint went on first, followed by 2 coats of red. Once we get back down to blue we know it is time to antifoul again. Hopefully we’ll get three years before needing to repaint.

Leak Busters

Colin worked on leak prevention whilst I was on sanding and antifoul duty. The propeller had proved a pig to remove, but he finally released it after some taps of a hammer on each blade. He was then able to remove it and to access the propeller shaft. Our prop shaft is almost 3m long and a substantial weight so it’s a two person job to ease it from the stern tube. Then we got to have a good look at the cutlass bearings which definitely needed replacing. We had one new one with us and with help from our friendly yard neighbour Teddie, sourced another from Dodic, a workshop and chandler near Betina.

The new Bob in place
The new Bob in place
The rudder stock with it's pitting now filled in. A cap stuffed with padding and grease screws on top
The rudder stock with it’s pitting now filled in. A cap stuffed with padding and grease screws on top

The Rudder Stock

Next it was the rudder stock. The stock attaches the rudder to the steering cables. It comes up into the boat under the bed in the aft cabin. To stop water leaking up around it, it has a metal cap screwed down tight on top. Wads of padding and grease are then stuffed around the stock. However, as the rudder turns backwards and forwards, the packing and grease around the rudder stock is gradually squeezed out. This then leaves space for seawater to bubble in.

Adding new grease to replace that squeezed out whilst in the water is impossible without creating an indoor water fountain. So we installed a remote greaser into the rudder stock cap. This means we can squeeze in new grease to seal up any future leaks without having to lift out of the water. Also, previous wear on the stock had left it with pitting, making it difficult to get a completely leak free seal. Using some metal epoxy, Colin filled in the pitting before sanding it smooth again.

It's not always easy to get access to the places you need to work on a boat
It’s not always easy to get access to the places you need to work on a boat
The new remote greaser in the top right
The new remote greaser in the top right

The North Wind Doth Blow

We were going to experience our first bora whilst out of the water in the boatyard. The bora is a very strong north easterly wind. It comes to life around the Velebit mountain range, about 60 miles north of Murter. We wouldn’t get the full brunt but the forecast was predicting 40kt sustained winds with much higher gusts. We’d had almost a weeks warning of it’s arrival and had decided not to rush the jobs. Our preference was not to get launched before it hit, but to stay out on the hard.

The strong southerly wind that sometimes precedes a bora had blown onto Emerald’s bow. But we’d barely felt it on board. The bora would hit us on the side, a large target area for the wind to get it’s claws into. My over active imagination created nightmare scenarios of us blowing over like a domino! On the night of its approach I laid awake anxiously waiting for the wind to arrive.

Looking out across the anchorage
Looking out across the anchorage at Murter

Glad to be on Land During the Bora Blow

But as Thursday turned into Friday there was barely a breath of wind. Our biggest annoyance was the fleet of mosquitoes that had somehow found their way into the aft cabin and were merrily chomping away on us. That changed at about 1am as a cacophony of howling and rattling started up outside. The wind wrapped itself around the rigging and any loose objects in the yard. Most of our portholes were open as the temperature still hovered close to 30C inside, making it impossible to escape the noise. The lights outside briefly went dark but were soon back on. A little later we heard snatches of shouting but couldn’t see anything when we looked out.

We didn’t get a lot of sleep that night. But it wasn’t due to wobbling or shaking because Emerald barely moved. She had an occasional gentle shudder as a particularly strong squall hit us but otherwise we were rock solid. The yard guys had done a great job of chocking us.

Sticking our heads out of the cockpit in the morning let us feel the full brunt of the wind. It really did take your breath away. The anchorage looked awful. As the wind increased through the day we felt extremely glad to be out on the hard during the blow. Anchor chains were bow taut. Some of the boats were nodding so much in the waves that their bows were being buried and water was being thrown into the air. I felt seasick just watching. A boat which had been alongside the boatyard wall had gone. Our guess was that it had been battered too much against the wall.

The wind speed history during the bora. The 64 hour mark is the start of the bora with 40 to 50kt winds
The wind speed history during the bora. The 64 hour mark is the start of the bora with 40 to 50kt winds

Grateful to be Able to go For a Walk

Being on the hard also allowed us to go for a walk around. There was no such hope for those out anchored. If we’d been out in that anchorage I might well have been getting off and never getting back on again. We walked into town to buy more antifoul, jumpers and long trousers making an appearance with the weather more like a grim summer’s day in Britain. This became especially so when a cold rain shower caught us out.

Doesn't look very nice out there
Doesn’t look very nice out there

On through the night it blew, keeping up the 40 kts. However we slept much better now the worries of Emerald falling over had passed. Plus the cooler temperatures were much more pleasant for sleeping. The lie in next morning snuggled and cosy under the duvet was wonderful.

By Saturday morning the winds had eased back below 30kt and the anchorage looked much more friendly. Still uncomfortable but the boats weren’t doing their violent pitching anymore. Yesterday’s squalls had blown away but the sky remained grey and it was still a relatively chilly 20c. When your body has been trying to get used to 30C plus, 20C is a bit of a shock.

It was still too windy for painting the last coat of antifoul without painting everything else around us. Plus, being blown off the staging didn’t appeal, so we had another welcome day of rest.

By Sunday the wind had eased back to 10 to 15 knots. With still lower temperatures it made for a much more comfortable day to paint the last coat of antifoul on. We had finished by mid afternoon. Emerald’s hull was a gleaming signal red, the staging cleared away and the big tidy up begun.

Now For the Moment of Truth – Had we Fixed the Leaks?

Emerald spent Monday night in the slings so that we could antifoul the patches under the blocks. Then at 8am the next morning the travel lift was trundling Emerald over to the slip and gently lowering her into the water. They left her floating for 10 minutes but still supported by the slings whilst we made the leak checks. The rudder stock was dry, even with a few turns on the helm that all seemed good. The prop shaft was dry too, but we would only get to test that fully when under way.

In the slings, ready for launch
In the slings, ready for launch

With all the checks complete, the crane operator lowered the slings and it was time to leave. We tentatively edged our way out, the yards guys pulling us until we’d cleared the slings. The depth gauge was showing only 10cms of water under the keel – we didn’t want to prang our shiney new paint! Once clear of the lift we gently motored away. We did a lap around the anchorage whilst making regular checks on Bob, the new PSS shaft seal.

Without counting our chickens too soon and all that, we are pleased to report Emerald has a dry bilge and two very relieved and happy crew.

Our boatyard view
Our boatyard view


The Bagdad Bar in the boatyard
The Bagdad Bar in the boatyard

Emerald was lifted out and stored ashore at the Vinici Boatyard on the west shore of Murter town. It is very much a do it yourself kind of yard but that suited our needs and our pocket. There is even a little bar for when the only thing that will solve a problem is a cold beer. A basic shower and toilets were available. A little English is spoken by some of the staff. This, along with the help from our neighbours we were able to find all the parts and expertise we needed.

We were pleased to be able to find everything we needed within walking distance. There are several chandler shops:

  • Magdd in Murter, up behind the post office. A general chandlers store, we bought paint supplies from here.
  • Dodic on the way to Betina had an engineering workshop and a small chandlers where we bought new packing for the rudder stock.
  • Hramina Marina has a chandlers shop too.
  • 3Colori close to Betina Marina had very good supplies for painting and repairs including epoxy, primers and antifoul and all the other bits and bobs needed for painting.

We found prices to be very reasonable; for example the Hempel paint was €35 cheaper per 2.5l tin than from online chandlers.

Murter itself was a nice town in which to be stuck for a while. It has plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants as well as an outdoor veggie market and several supermarkets. Plus lots of ice cream shops for when we needed cooling down.

3 thoughts on “Croatia Boatyard: Leak Busting and a Bora Wind

  • Phil Owen

    Hi Nic. Wow that was a gripping blog ! I’ve been following the saga and its testament to your combined skills and fortitude to overcome the rigours of maintaining emerald in order to continue living your dreams. Well done to you both. Your description of the howling night, boats in distress and even disappearing was very good. The pics associated with the work made it easy to imagine being in your shoes ( face mask and gloves …lol ). Another emerging theme from your blogs over the last year has been the supportive community of fellow journeymen ( maybe that should now be journey people ) and chandlers you have enocountered that makes dealing with major issues more readily achievable. Best wishes for your onward journey.

    • Nichola Post author

      Thanks Phil. We have been so surprised and pleased by the random acts of kindness we’ve been given on our travels, we try to give back where we can as well to keep the kindness flowing 🙂 Last time we did the antifouling we had the opposite problem – freezing cold! We were glad of all the overalls then. We’ll try not to have to do work in the heat of summer again.

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