Plastic in the Pacific Crusade – Part 5 – Preparing a boat for a world-wide crossing

Welcome to our blog for the Plastic in the Pacific Crusade.  If you missed the earlier editions please use the category search in the footer to go back and read them.  They are listed under Plastic in the Pacific.  Over the coming year we will be writing regularly of our adventures and what we are seeing.  In this article we write about taking delivery of our yacht, preparing it for a year at sea and then setting sail towards Greece

SUSKYThey say the happiest days of owning a boat are the day you buy it and the day you sell it. Well we hadn’t seen the boat when we bought it so you would think that the best day would be when you take delivery of it in person. Well we had another thing coming. As excited as we were to see the boat, you always have your fears when you have bought a boat sight unseen. However you do picture it to be in the best condition possible. In the survey photos I had seen it was quite dirty and had sent a request to the broker to ensure it was cleaned before we took delivery. They assured me this would be taken care of.

Heading to the boat and Zolly told us that he had hosed it down a few times but had not unlocked the hatch as he didn’t want to be accused of stealing anything which is fair enough, after all he was just keeping it at his place, not being paid to look after it. So there we are, we approach along the walkway and the first thing we notice is the damage to the rails was a lot worse than expected. The boat has aluminium rails along the sides to protect it, they had chunks taken out of them and a lot of scratches, all cosmetic of course. The rest of the boat looked good. There was no shine on the hull but that is to be expected and can be fixed. Stepping onto the back deck it all looked good. I hate it when people varnish teak and the seats had been coated a long time ago and were wearing so they looked ordinary, another job to do on the way home to sand them back and oil them.

Then came the big moment, opening the hatch and seeing the interior. Annika is Gluten allergic and any trace of Gluten consumed will make her quite ill. She is also allergic to penicillin, so when you open the hatch and the stench of off food and mould comes wafting out and you see stale bread all over the table you wonder what the hell has just happened. The place was a pig sty. The fridge was a mouldy mess with month old food going off, the bilges were horrible and basically a pig must have owned it as no normal person could possibly have left the boat in that state. There were still personal effects all throughout the boat. Our dream had become a little nightmare, however it was all fixable, just not what we expected.

We immediately contacted the broker and I have to say his immediate reaction, I did not like. He basically stated that in Croatia, it is the owner’s responsibility to present the boat with all items and in a clean state. So he basically said he couldn’t do anything about it. For your reference the company is Selymar Yachts and the broker who attended that day was Mark. He was an arrogant so-and-so. All he wanted was his money it seemed. We managed to convince him to call the owner and get the owner to front up the money for a cleaner. He agreed to this eventually and we got a bit of money out of him. However Annika and I agreed to do the cleaning ourselves so we knew it was done properly.

Barba Kum Bar & Grill
Barba Kum Bar & Grill

The rest of the day was horrible. Garbage bag after garbage bag of broken, mouldy and plain hideous stuff was taken off the boat. The cushions where brought out and the dust plumes that came off them, well let’s say a guy on the neighbouring boat said ‘Is that even possible?’. Floor boards were pulled up and the dirt was unheard of. We focussed on the v-berth where we would sleep and the galley as well as one head so we could stay on the boat. We had dinner the first night at the restaurant as we had no food and couldn’t eat on the boat. We also organised for the boat to be pulled out of the water the following morning first thing. Just before dinner we checked the engine to find water leaking out of it. We made a temporary fix to get us the 1 hour steam to the marina in the morning. It was not the ideal first day on the boat. The work load all of a sudden seemed enormous and a little daunting on the limited budget we had.

The new day and we steamed off towards Kremik Marina for the haul out. We steamed at 1400rpm and had to fill the water up every 10 minutes. But we eventually made it and the boat was hauled out. The antifoul was in a horrible state but that was O.K, we wanted to start fresh anyway, so when most of it came off with the high pressure hose, it was perfect. Once racked up we organised with the locals to have a bit of fiberglass done, a set of davits built up, along with some other stainless steel work. Annika and I would do the majority of the work including the antifoul and a massive cut and polish of the hull to bring back the shine. Basically SUSKY was in need of a lot of love, and she was about to get it. After sanding the hull all day, we finished off with a bit more cleaning inside, a job that would continue for more than a week to get it to a standard we were happy with.

slip-workWe slept on the boat all week and the walk to the toilets was about 5 minutes but slowly and surely Susky started to look better. Her new antifoul in vibrant red looked great and that was half the job. Then we set about the cut and polish of the hull. This was a major job and I can tell you that my shoulders were very heavy each evening. I can’t count how many times I went around the hull going from 80 grit, to 180 grit, to 280, then 400, 800 and finally 1200 grit. Then a final polish and she came up a treat. It didn’t look brand new but she was 14 years old so that can’t be expected. The only thing that really annoyed us was the stripes on the hull. Both were painted in a hideous red and had more waves than the ocean. We decided that would be a job for when we got back to Australia.

We also had a new mainsail made as the old one wasn’t going to go far. Unfortunately, in all the rush and chaos, we made a bit of a blunder here too. We gave the sail loft the old sail so they could copy it. The guy came down to measure the boat and I was away from the boat at the time. Well I assumed he had measured it and when the new sail arrived, we fitted it and it really did look small. It was 40cm short on the hoist and about the same on the outhaul. He hadn’t measured the boat, he had built a replica of what was on the boat. We hadn’t had that sail on the boat so had no idea it was small. But in the end, we got what we got and it will have to do as we couldn’t afford modifications. Just another lesson learnt.

gravejast-with-a-viewThroughout the week we would visit Primosten which was a cool little township about 5 mins away with an awesome church on the top of the cliffs looking out over the ocean. The graves there has an amazing vista. We also started to sort out the transfer of registration to Australian. This involved cancelling the old registration and we got to meet the former owner. I haven’t felt that angry meeting someone for a very long time. He was Swedish and initially stated he didn’t understand what I was saying when explaining that he had left the boat in a mess and that half the so called ‘Charter Inventory’ was missing. So when Annika chipped in in Swedish, the look on his face was a sight to behold. Anyway, we got what we needed from him and I sent off our documents back to Australia as they needed originals. It would take 7 days to get there, the whole time we are waiting to head towards Greece where we could get the rest of our gear to fit out the boat.

After 6 days on the hard stand we finally set her afloat and headed back to Grebastica where we felt once again at home as soon as we pulled up. We would continually work on the boat all day and enjoy our evenings with the crew of Barba Kum. We got to a point where we got our own drinks and even started getting drinks for others. We would become the official welcoming committee on the docks and help visiting yachts tie up whilst Zolly and co were busy running the bar and the restaurant. I had full access to Zollys amazing workshop which made things so much easier. He also allowed us to use his old Landrover to run into town a couple of times and even took us around the chandleries in Sibernik to get supplies. Everything was working perfectly. We were still waiting for our documents to arrive in Australia with the Australian Maritime Safety Association (AMSA) and couldn’t move until we had those documents. The Croatian registration had been cancelled and hence we had no registration. We ended up getting a surveyor to come down to give us permission to sail to Split so we could check out as soon as the rego docs arrived.

On the Saturday before heading to Split we decided to give Zolly a hand in turning over the fleet of charter boats that he ran for a company. He had a couple of boats himself in the fleet so we were only too happy to pay him back for the helpfulness he had shown us. So Annika and I went down and helped out by refuelling 3 boats as there had been no fuel the day the boats had come in. We helped fix a few other issues and were done by 1530. We went back to the boat and on arrival we were met by Maria, Zolly and Josipa’s daughter. She had been to our website and found the dolphin coloring sheet and had colored it in and presented it to us. It was very touching and a great moment for both Annika & I. We had dinner with the family and a few drinks as it was to be our last night at this great place. We are sure to head back there some time in the future, guaranteed.

Picture from Maria

Sunday morning and we ran back into Primosten to pick up final supplies and at 1230 we finally said our goodbyes and cast off towards Split, where we could check out of Croatia. Our rego wasn’t through as yet but we had our permit to sail direct to Split. There was a great breeze in the channel in Grebastica itself but not much outside. We sailed as much as we could but in the end had to motor to an anchorage for the night that was listed as M.Luka on an island called Drvenik V. It was a popular spot and we had the anchor down at 1930. Finally we were on our way, it was such a good feeling to be at anchor. To finally have sundowners, that is living.

1-night-anchorIn the morning we steamed into Split, topped up the fuel and visited a chandlery to try and get a few more of the parts we needed that we couldn’t get in Sibernik. It seems no chandlery has everything in Croatia, it is all small places that have certain parts so you have to visit different ones to get everything you need. A bit frustrating. Overnight our Provisional Australian Registration had come through which made us very happy. Eventually we arrived over at Customs and were met by the agent who was handling our clearance documents. This was one thing that Selymar did do well, they ensured we could export the yacht and clear the country.

Split was quite dirty, different from what we had seen in Grebastica and Primosten. Rubbish was everywhere but I guess it is typical of a commercial port. It’s just that the commercial port backed onto the city that made it horrible. We couldn’t wait to get out and finally we had our clearance and were free to depart for Greece before noon. We started heading south in a glass out. Finally the breeze came in at 5-12 knots from the South so it was on the nose sailing. We made it to Vela Luka on Korlula Island where we anchored at 2000. It was set in a small cove with lots of houses overlooking. An annoying swell would roll into the bay from the large inter island ferries that ran all night and that would ultimately wake us up the next morning at dawn.

It would be Tuesday the 11th August that we would finally depart Croatian waters and head towards Greece. 18 days of hard work and cleaning had paid off, we were on our way towards home. It was a fantastic feeling but the rollercoaster would continue over the coming weeks. Good days interspersed with very very ordinary days.

In our next edition we arrive in Greece and take delivery of our pallets that we sent from Australia, then set sail to Italy.

Ocean Crusaders are out to change the way people treat our oceans.  Our online education program is free to download at www.OceanCrusaders.org/education where children can learn of the issues our oceans are facing and how they can make a difference.  The Plastic in the Pacific Crusade is about educating the South Pacific Islands, finding out what is happening in these islands and updating our programs.  You can join us in the Pacific and see for yourself what we do.

Ocean Crusaders Plastic in the Pacific Crusade is proudly supported by: Cressi Dive Gear, Gill Marine, Keen Footwear Australia, Barz Optics Sunglasses, Maxsea Navigation Software, Digital Diver Cairns, LED Dive Lights Australia, Boat Names Australia & Predictwind Weather

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