The day before we planned to leave Port-Saint-Louis we noticed a crack on the rudder from the pontoon. Thijs dived a first time under the boat to look at the damage. After diving a second time we came to the conclusion that the crack was serious enough to take the boat out of the water for a proper repair. We went to Navy Service to lift the boat out of and back in the water and stayed there for a couple of days. The whole process was going to take a big chunk of our budget so we kind of had to fix the rudder ourselves. After spending 2 years working with polyester it didn’t seem like an impossible task.
We fixed the rudder as follows: first we washed out the salt water inside the crack with fresh water, then we let the rudder dry for 2 days (the place felt like a hot air oven anyway so things tend to dry quite fast). We glued the split halves together with a special epoxy glue that stays a bit flexible and even bonds underwater (expensive glue but it was definitely worth the money). We also bolted the two parts together with two A4 stainless steel bolts. As a finishing touch we put several layers of glass fiber with epoxy around the rudder over the crack and we covered the bolts with epoxy plaster. It was hard to work with epoxy in these temperatures so we had to be fast!
While the rudder was drying out, we had some time to finish off a few things on the boat. We also were pleasantly surprised with the visit of Hans (the Dane sailing Mahogny) and Geoffrey who were both still staying in Port-Saint-Louis.
In any event, all’s well that ends well. Halcyon Days went back in the water today (June 17). Even though this cracked rudder caused us time and money, we’re glad we noticed it in time, before being at sea and before the whole rudder completely cracked open. We went back to Port-Saint-Louis waiting for the mistral to quiet down. Hans and Geoffrey were ready to take our lines when we approached the pontoon. We also met up with Ian and Lara shortly (they were going back to the UK for a few days) which was unexpected but a nice surprise.
Port à sec – some numbers:
- Number of rudders fixed: 1
- Number of flying insect attacks: 724
- Number of sleepless nights: 1 (thanks to the heavy mistral)