Because there are so many photos that we wanted to include during this time period, we have broken this period up in to four
1) Intro to "the pit" and our life in the yard
2) Plating of the hull done while in the "pit"
3) Complete redesign of the bow (2 1/2 wks)
4) Replacement of our wheelhouse roof
As we previously noted, our insurance company requires that every 5 years the steel hull of the ship must be measured by
ultra-sound to verify a minimum of 3mm. If there are areas in which the hull is thinner than the minimum, we are obliged to
weld a steel plate over the area. One never knows how much plating will be required until the ship is out of the water in dry
dock and this examination has been performed. With the weak dollar and the rising cost of steel the entire amount we had set
aside could be consumed and we would not be able to take advantage of being in the yard and have other work performed. We
had made a “things we would like to have done while in the yard on the hard” list and had received a quote from the yard for
these items last October.
... continued below the photos
We returned via Eurostar to the yard in Belgium on the evening of the 14th of August. Since the yard was so big, the taxi driver
asked us where we wanted him to drop us. We directed him to the dry dock (hereafter called "the pit"). I didn't see JoLi' as I
was looking in the spot that I thought we'd be placed – along one of the 2 sides. No, there was a small barge of about 13
meters long there and along the other side a 39m commercial that's being converted to a live-a-board/home. There was this
thing in the middle all covered with tarps of blue and orange… No, that couldn't be JoLi', but Joe assured me it was. Truly an
example of Blind Faith. But upon further inspection, he was correct.... only problem was that she was stuck on the massive
blocks in the middle of the mucky/muddy pit with no access onboard because no stairs or passarelle was in place and the tarps
were blocking the walkways. Hummmmm. This was going to be tricky.
I saw some people on the 39m barge (actually she was in her shower robe with wet hair). I explained to them that we were
trying to get on our boat and might they have a passerelle that we could use. They said no, all they had was a 1m board. Then
Joe asked if they had a ladder, which they lent us and joe walked down in to the mucky pit (yes, still in his traveling clothes) to
put the ladder up on the side of JoLi' to climb onboard with minimal touching the filthy tarps that covered the walkway. Of
course, we had locked our passerelle in our absence, so I had to toss him the boat keys (risking missing and their tumbling into
the mucky abyss) to get inside and get the key to unlock it. Our 3m passerelle just reached across from the deck of the 39m to
the upper deck of JoLi'. Next, the luggage had to be taken around the 39m to the passerelle 12-15ft above the pit, and then
carried onboard. (see photo)
My next concern was, how were my flowers, herbs and tomatoes with these yuckey tarps covering the boat. Take a breath, pick
up the tarp, and... no flowers, hummmm. The yard manager's (the son of the owner) has a house overlooking the pit (what a
view! Interested parties need not inquire... ;-)), and there was JoLi's garden carefully lined up along the path to the front door of
the house! (see photo) The herb and tomato pots were scattered throughout their landscape. Can you believe it?! That's 20 pots
of flowers and maybe 10 larger pots of herbs and tomatoes. And they took them all off! Later, I saw this big wooden platform
next to ONE of the yard's cranes that is stationed next to the pit and I think they craned it over to the deck of JoLi', loaded all of
our pots and craned them to infront of the house. For them to take the care and time to do something like this!!! Guess that
answers our questions about how they're going to protect our boat for the bow welding work. The answer was yes, they will.
Onboard, everything was fine. Our electricity was plugged in and the fridges and freezer were humming. Joe set up the port-a-
pottie that we saved from our trip down from Holland when we bought JoLi' in the winter of 2001. Boy were we glad we had it as
being stuck in the middle of the "pit", particularly completely tarped with power washing going on from 7am-4pm for 2 days and
all the stuff from the blasting flying in the air! We decided the best thing to do was to stay onboard until they were done with all
the power-washing, surely they would liberate us by removing our tarps. We were anxious for the process to be over so we
could wash down as thick mud was caked on the tarps! The workers started at 7am and ended at 4pm! The pressure washer
they use has the power of a fire hose and the worker has to lean in to it and brace the gun at his hip to prevent from being
knocked over when he turns it on. (see photo) He's dressed in this thick black plastic suit with a hood and goggles, and it's a
nasty job. They power-wash off all the scum and growth from all the barges that are in "the pit". The sooner all the power
washing was done the sooner they could do the ultra-sound of the hull and we'd know where we stood and how much of the
"other work" we wanted to do, could be done.
The first week was miserable, as from morning 'til night, saturdays and sundays included, we were under a tarp being
protected from either power washing of the boats or from the sandblasting that went on non-stop for 4 days after the power-
washing was done. The sandblasting on the small barge next to us was really the worst, as the debris from the procedure was
incredible. The sandblasting left pounds and pounds of black glass balls about 10cm deep in the pit AND our tarps. It was the
beginning of our 2nd week in the "pit" before we finally were able to remove the tarps and start cleaning up the mess. We have
never been subject to such filth. It was pretty depressing while it was going on as you couldn't get off the boat and there wasn't
anything that you could do on your boat because you'd be blasted if you tried with tiny little glass pellets if you did.
Finally it was our turn! They ultra-sounded the hull. The hull was marked with x's and then an ultra-sound reading was taken
and the thickness was marked in chalk on the hull. (see photo) The next day we got the results. There wasn't any required
plating for our insurance, but we opted to put 2 plates on and take advantage of extra thickness of the hull as our thinking was
that eventually we'd probably have to have it done either when we sold JoLi', or our next survey in 5 years. (see Part II for
more photos and details of the plating process) The US dollar was only going down so why not. This good news also meant that
we'd be able to get more on our "wish list" performed. We took advantage of being in the "Pit" and sanded the entire hull,
derusted as best we could, and applied new green paint. Wow, did JoLi' look great.
After 3 weeks in the pit we were put back in the water. Only "under water" work was performed during our stay in the "pit". For
us, that included: the ultra-sound, 2 new plates, replacement of anodes, and rebuilding of the engine water pump.
Because the "pit" is like a massive lock, all boats enter, get worked on and exit at the same time. Normally these dry dock
periods are in two week blocks, but because of the smaller boat in our dry-docking requiring more work than normal, we all
were required to stay in the "pit" for 3 weeks. This is typically how yards get behind in their dry-docking schedules. When the 3
boats were ready to go back in the water they open the valves on the door of the dry dock and the Sambre River (see photo).
Water pours in, and fills the "pit". During this process, boat owners should be constantly surveying below decks for leaks from
work performed. Though it's exciting to see your boat float, it's even more important to roam the entire boat checking for
water!!! Once the "pit" is filled they crane off the door panels (see photos) and voila! you're sprung. Everyone takes turns
exiting and as soon as the boats are out, the next group enters and they empty the "pit" to start the dry-dock process all over