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It's been a miserable and back breaking job for Peter over the last few weeks but the last of the lead has been removed. In order to reduce the draft by 1.2m we had to remove all the lead from the bottom of the keel, which has been quite the task considering all the steel framework inside the keel. Many many hours of cutting steel with the grinder, cutting the lead with the chainsaw, hammering and splitting off blocks of lead and at last the final task to break your back - carrying the heavy blocks of lead away. Needless to say this has been a back breaking job and certainly one of the less enjoyable ones but it had to be done and we will be able to re-use the lead for the bulb. Here are a few pics of the process...
Once the last of the lead was removed, the final cut was made and with the help of our 4WD we literally drove the bottom of the keel away. Peter then focused on having a clean and straight line and plumb bottom surface in preparation to fit the bottom plate on. With the bottom plate in place it was time for the extension fore and aft and the framework for the bulb and steel plates is what keeps Peter currently busy. Yet again not the nicest of jobs but at least it's a turning point of starting to build again rather than removing and cutting out.
When we first thought of reducing the draft we looked into different options such as bolt-on bulbs and looked at different keel designs that have hauled in the yard as well as some designs like the keels of the AMEL's. As always it is a compromise on what is fairly easy to build, cost-effective and functional and this is how this keel modification was born with the guidance of a keel plan the original designer provided us with in regards to how much extra lead we require etc. After all we do want to make sure we don't lose traction upwind and certainly want to ensure that she rights herself despite the shorter keel. Kevin, one of the engineers in the yard has been most helpful and regularly checks on our progress and the direction the project takes which is always reassuring and great to have someone else's brain to pick along the way.
We have been fortunate with the weather which has been really good this last week and allowed for progress on the keel but on the odd day that it was drizzling or raining a new 'inside project' has emerged that is the next in line to get done and a good one to keep busy with on the less favorable weather days...the Nav station. Exciting to be planning where all our instruments and switchboards will go even though of course the keel is our main priority at present!
So as always, watch this space as we are making progress on the keel and depending on the weather potentially even the Nav Station :-)