Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog

This is the blog of Maunie of Ardwall. After a six-year adventure sailing from Dartmouth to Australia, we are now back in Britain.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Australia's Greatest Boatyard?

We've just completed a major pit-stop for Maunie - 5 days ashore to tackle routine maintenance and a few extra jobs. Ask any sailor and they'll tell you that working on the boat in a yard is probably their least favourite part of the sailing calendar - if they are like us, they try to do all the work in the minimum possible time so it's usually very hard work, and very much against the clock. At least we aren't doing it in a British winter, of course!

That said, our timing could have been better! We hauled out on Thursday just as the first major heatwave of the Queensland summer arrived - temperatures in the mid 30's and some spectacular thunderstorms made things particularly sweaty. However our choice of yard - The Boat Works on the Coomera River, Gold Coast - turned out to be a great one, thanks to advice from sailing friends who came here last year and from The Down Under Rally organiser, John Hembrow.  

The Boat Works calls itself 'Australia's Greatest Boatyard', which is some boast, but its owner, racing driver Tony Longhurst, has invested around $20M over the past three years to transform the 23 acre site into a very impressive facility.

The yard is close to new waterfront housing developments, each house having its own boat dock, so there are plenty of local customers!

The yard has expanded since this Google Earth photo was taken - the 50-berth marina is now full of boats and new hard-standing areas and buildings are taking shape towards the top of the photo
All this investment means two travel lifts (Sid the seventy-tonner and Harry the hundred-tonner) plus a hydraulic launch sled for powerboats and catamarans, excellent (and spotlessly-clean) showers and toilets and free washing machines and dryers (which we used extensively!).  Smooth, dust-free concrete gives a level and safe working surface and there are 30 huge sheds for those with a budget to do under-cover repairs; the shed roofs harvest rainwater for boat washing.

Good facilities can be let down by lousy customer service, of course, but our experience of the team was really positive. Our lift out started with an unforeseen problem but their response was a good example of great training and a genuine desire to get things right: We were lifted out of the water by 'Sid' but it became clear that our forestay was going to hit the lift's cross beam if we were to clear the ground with our keel. This came as a surprise to us as we've never had this problem but the guys explained that their travel lifts aren't quite as tall as standard ones (to allow them to carry boats into the sheds). They were really apologetic and, just as we were considering the hassle of having to remove the yankee and undo the forestay, they asked if we'd be ok to go back into the water and be lifted a couple of hours later by 'Harry', a longer machine. We were given vouchers for lunch at the very good on-site cafe (having already had a free coffee and muffin there) and after that all went very smoothly indeed; the guys regularly came over to check if we needed anything and Alanna and Amy in the office were really helpful and efficient. Throughout the five days, if we needed anything, our requests were met with a 'can-do' attitude and the team's attention to detail was amazing - even bringing out hats to wear when the sun got too hot!

Second-time lucky - Maunie is taken by 'Harry' to have her bottom washed

Pressure-washing the slime off
 The yard has dozens of service companies based here so we asked Sea Spray to come and give the topsides a professional clean and machine-polish (the first since the repaint in 2011). Sean did a brilliant job:

Shiny and protected
 Like a lot of boatyards, this one is fairly out-of-town; it's about a 10 minute drive to the nearest shops. They have 3 courtesy vehicles, one car and two utes (pick-ups) provided free of charge for up to 3 hours at a time - brilliant! Better still, since no one else had booked it, we got the car for the full weekend which was really useful for several runs to the supermarket, chandlers and DIY store.

Note the safe and secure steps rather than the usual rickety ladder, to get up to the boat
 We tackled a few non-routine jobs in the heat, first removing the crumbling foam sound-proofing from the generator lid and replacing it with some much better foil-lined product....:

Advanced cutting-out and sticking
 ... and then we had a bit of a frightening moment servicing the valves of the seacocks - one of them was stiff to operate and then failed completely! This could have been a really bad moment at sea but we were able to get a new valve at the on-site chandlery and fit it.

The propeller polished and coated with Propspeed Gold anti-fouling

By Monday lunchtime we'd done pretty much everything on the list and Maunie was looking mighty fine once more. Time for another lift with Harry:

Sean came to give a final polish to the area that had been behind the support arms of the cradle

Dane driving the biggest radio-controlled toy in the world

Ready to hit the water
 We were pretty tired at the end of all that, but delighted with the end result. Our final reward was the appearance of the 'supermoon' on Monday night.

So that was another expensive few days, though we benefited from an offer which gave us 2 free days on the hardstand (normally $75 per day) and a 10% discount on the haul-out thanks to our membership of the Down Under Rally so overall it was good value compared to other yards and just so much better than any other we've ever used.

We aren't quite finished with the spending, though - our generator re-build should be completed tomorrow (more on that little saga next time).

1 comment:

  1. Good old Australia! Hope you're not too sweaty. Ridiculous weather here post Earthquake!