We arrived just before Christmas, and didn't do much until after that, with the kids visiting briefly during the Christmas period. We started getting quotes for some of the work that we wanted done, including stainless steel targa arch, and a new awning.
We had our targa arch fitted in February. This now carries three solar panels, stern light and numerous antennae.
Soon after, we had a leak in the drive shaft seal, which meant fairly major work had to be done fairly quickly. Friends Wal and Robyn, who were going to do a lot of the interior work came up from Brisbane and lent a hand, living on board while we were on the hard stand in Brown's slipway.
To remove the seal (and the shaft) we had a fair amount of work to do. The drive on 'Meridian' is unusual (as many spectators told us). The engine is back-to-front, with the gearbox forward. The gearbox has a large pulley that drives 8 belts to another pulley on the shaft. With bearings at the end and centre, the whole thing is pretty complex. Because the bilge is so narrow, there is no way to remove the bits from above, so we cut two holes in the keel - fairly easy with a steel boat, but don't try it with fibreglass.
While it was all apart, we replaced all the bearings, shaft seal, cutlass bearing, and the drive belts. We also extended the rudder as we discovered that the builder had changed the shape but not given it enough area.
In March we went to New Zealand, leaving Wal to continue working on the boat. This was remodelling the 'head' or bathroom and the lazarette (or big storage locker in the stern). Following that, we then started on a hard dodger or wheelhouse to replace the vinyl soft dodger which didn't provide much in the way of shelter. After taking many measurements and photos of Freedom's (our neighbour's boat) dodger, Wal started with a plywood mockup so that we could get an idea of the finished product. After much discussion, we agreed on the height, width, depth, rake and any other dimension that could be changed. That then allowed Wal to start building the dodger from Western Red Cedar.
When that was done, we took it to Lawrie's boatyard for fibreglassing. This was followed by sanding, filling, sanding, filling for the next three weeks until it was ready for spray painting.
No, the boat hadn't sunk!!
After the dodger was ferried back on the inflatable, stored on the dock while the base was prepared, then finally bolted down. More work followed with new lockers being built for storage and instruments, and stainless steel bars for a cockpit awning.
Some more interior work saw the sail locker greatly improved with shelves and a dividing panel to stop the sails sliding out the door. The saloon table was reduced in size to make it more convenient, and a telescopic pedestal fitted so that we can lower it to convert to a double bunk for visitors.