Time had not only run away from us when it came to taking Stella Maris out on the water, but when it came to taking her out of it as well. We could hardly believe that eight years had passed since the last time she sat on the hard all the way back in Australia, half way around the globe. Gjalt had often been under Stella Maris to check the state of her antifouling and thanks perhaps to the clean water and industrious fish here in the Azores, it was still in good condition.
But Stella Maris has a dark blue hull and years spent under a blazing tropical sun had left her gelcoat looking dull and weathered. No amount of waxing could bring back her shine; she was in need of some serious beauty treatment onshore. In addition we had the more urgent need to replace a few seacocks that were showing worrying signs of corrosion.
Hauling out is not something we enjoy. Watching Stella Maris being lifted from the water and transported over solid ground gets our heart rates up and they don’t go back down again until she is sitting safely on her supports. As ever, we were grateful to the travel lift operator for having handled her with such care.
We immediately cleaned her hull with a high pressure hose to remove the covering layer of algae before it dried out. Beneath it the antifouling was still in such good condition no one could believe it had been applied eight years ago. As for the gelcoat, we first removed the weathered layer with extremely fine sandpaper (1500 grit) and afterwards used a polishing compound (3M Imperial Compound and Finishing Material) to restore the shine. Extra sanding with 2000 grit sandpaper was required on patches beneath the gaps in the toe rails, where rain and sea water run off had caused the most damage.
After a few days of sanding and polishing, Stella Maris’ hull seemed to belong to a yacht much bigger than forty-one feet. The orbital sander we used was excellent but heavy, and while progress from stern to midsection was extremely satisfying and relatively fast, the bow loomed ominously ahead of us. A third of the way through the job, the finish line seemed a dauntingly long way off. It took six days to transform the hull from dull and weathered to beautiful and shiny, the dark blue enhanced by brand new matt gold coveline tape. Stella Maris looked like a brand new yacht.
As for the seacocks, we were wise to replace them. A friend with a lot of experience at wriggling himself into small spaces managed to remove all five but, worryingly, one of the seacocks and two of the hose stands actually broke in the process. As a Westerly Oceanlord, fifteen-year-old Stella Maris was built to high specifications and we expected her to have bronze seacocks, but the hose stands at least appear to be brass, the zinc content of which has been corroded by electrolysis. In their place we installed Forespar Marelon seacocks, which are made from composite reinforced polymer and additives not subject to corrosion or electrolysis. We now plan to replace all of the original seacocks, so that Stella Maris, the yacht which took us safely around the world, will have truly been restored to her former glory.