“Skittering” defined - August 29, 2006

I want to start with a bit of elaboration on the skittering at Wood’s Hole. It was more like crinkling paper in your hand and held to a microphone with the amplifier turned all the way up. It was LOUD. But a quick scamper to the floor panels revealed no water – neither ocean view nor trickle…phew! We were a bit shaken but Barefeet is sound and we pulled her out just as soon as we were back at the dock to have a real look. Yep, quite the shattered/fragmented fiberglass – kind of like the “bam” or “pow” from Batman cartoons.


That said, the sacrificial keel did its job. The starboard (right) sacrificial keel took the impact and kept the propeller and rudder from being damaged…and the port (left) keel was untouched. After a final diagnosis from the surveyor – all is structurally sound. Rebuild the starboard keel and we are all set to go back in the water. Quick sentence but lots of steps to accomplish it. The fiberglass artist, Bill, has been working solid and has made order out of the chaos we created.

In the meantime we are on P dock (as in parking lot) up on stilts…but with a view of the water in the distance. Yes, we have moved chairs onto the deck and toasted the sunset – it is still magical. We have created a six page list of projects we hope to complete before Barefeet is returned to the water so that we will be able to launch ASAP – we think sometime in September should be the outcome. So far we have made good progress. Just a sampling of projects thus far; install 2 access panels (Erin did her first drilling for this – power tool and all), fix leak in rope locker, change both fuel filters, add vacuum gauge to each fuel filter, clean barnacles from the bottom, change out traveller line, fix shower head, bow sprit cotter pin install, replace stripped screws from bowsprit slide, swap anchor chain (much easier to do on the parking lot), re-do rigging lines, assemble sewing box, pick up prescriptions for medicine chest, mock up awning for shade on the deck (we will sew this once we get a pattern designed) and on and on.

Barefeet feels like our primary residence despite showers in the marina (since we are on P dock…we have no water connection) and sampling local eateries since we cannot wash dishes. The water maker keeps going and will not need to be pickled as long as we flush out the system (approx 3 gallons) once per week. We appreciate the slower pace of this final stage but are ready to head South.

(Chris) Skittering indeed! When we hit the rock, the whole 24000 pounds of Barefeet rose up 2 feet out of the water as the force of the impact pushed us up and over the rock (thankfully – it would truly have sucked to be high and dry and stuck!) and we ground along on the surface, then crunched off the far side and started floating again! The exciting thing about all this is we found out that our boat is truly tough! (Thanks PDQ). Any time you hit a rock at 9.5 knots with full sail up in 20 knots of wind with a following current, crush your keel (note photo) and suffer ZERO structural problems you are both lucky and have a good boat. Barefeet will be as good as new in a few days.

The repair will be as follows (we are learning a lot about glass work, albeit a bit expensive for the class time). The plan is to grind off all the bad glass, build out the interior thickness back to what it was (Bill had to grind out some of the stuff on the inside of the keel). Then he is going to shape foam to a replica of the other keel, but 1/4 inch thinner. The way he does this to to grind the glass back to where it is good (some sort of black powder spread on the glass, washed off with acetone, then back lit with halogen lights finds the ends of the cracks). Then he scarfs the good stuff at a 1/12 grade, so that it ends in a razor edge. Next the foam is built out to that edge, and tapered and shaped like the keel. We will then put 8 or 9 layers of glass, fair it and cover with Interprotect. He claims we will not be able to tell that anything was done at all when we are finished. Right – he is not looking at our bank statements!

Here are a couple of shots of the progress. You can see how much glass we had to cut out - and you can see the scarfing and foam reconstruction. All is still good!