Imagine you are going to paint the hull. Some things to consider:
- how do you get a ship the size of Koukla out of the water?
- how do you hold it up for painting?
- won’t whatever holds it block the paint job?
There are many ways that ships can be hauled out, but for Koukla the best option is a boat lift. A boat lift is a large gantry-like frame on four tires, with two straps slung across. The straps are motorized hoists that lowered into the water while we motored the ship into place, then lifted it up.
Before painting could begin, the hull needed to be cleaned. It was coated in algal slime, with green seaweed strands along the waterline, and oysters and barnacles clustered around the propeller cage. Dressed in foul weather gear for the splashing spray from the hose, we used the marina’s power wash to scour the hull.
These plant and animal latch-ons increase drag. The paint for the bottom contains chemicals designed to discourage creatures from attaching to or growing on the hull. Of course it doesn’t stop everything, but the growth really wasn’t bad considering that the boat had been mostly stationary for a year.
After the washing was done, the lift drove around a parking lot with Koukla hanging in midair. Considering that Koukla is 33 tons, and especially when you can see the whole thing, big, this was an impressive thing to witness. When the boat is where we wanted it, boat stands (stable pedestals with adjustable height pads) were positioned around it and the straps were released. The boat stands held and we breathed a sigh of relief.
To answer the final question posed at the beginning: yes, the boat stands block part of the hull from being painted. The solution is the stressful task, handled by Horatio, of releasing stands one at a time and reengaging them elsewhere. You can then go back and paint the previously covered areas.. A few spots underneath blocks on the keel remained inaccessible until after the ship was hoisted up again for its return to the water, and Horatio heroically rushed around beneath the gently swaying mass, frantically painting patches of hull while the entire boat moved over him on its way back to the water.