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The Belle's five year hull "check-up"

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Old 12-19-2015, 08:05 PM
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Louisville, KY
Posts: 160
Default The Belle's five year hull "check-up"

Since our arrival on the 10th at Jeffboat, the Belle's hull "check-up" has gone fairly smooth. The shipyard crew started "hot work" in less than a week, which is incredibly quick compared to the last few visits. For those unfamiliar, "hot work" means the shipyard can start replacing steel. Just to get to this point is a tedious, time consuming, and expensive process to determine if the boat is safe for the shipyard to start work. To make it short (and not bore anyone to tears), we have a company remove every drop of fuel from our main fuel bunker and piping, then thoroughly clean the bunker before we are taken to the dry dock. Once we are set on the dry dock, we pay a marine chemist (of which there are only a handful in the country qualified and handsomely paid) to climb through any and every space there could be work done to the hull to determine if all is safe for the shipyard crew to light a torch or use a welder. Before all of this, though, there was much planning and meeting (and crawling through bilges) to determine when, where, and how much work might be needed. Here are a few pics taken from the perspective of being "high and dry" on the dock. These may be familiar to some, so I apologize for the repetition. I took a few shots of the rudders and the stern. The outer two rudders still have much of their riveted construction, while the center rudder was replaced (in the 1950's if I remember Capt. Hawley's recollections correctly). The center rudder has an internal frame with a skin welded over top. The stern still maintains its original shape, with the hull contoured to give the rudders a tight clearance to it at any angle. In essence, this contour funnels water around the rudders for better steering. I tried to capture some of the Belle's stern "rake" to show the contours (unique to many Reese boats). Itís hard, though, to capture all of the dimensions to these contours in a photo. Iíve watched shipyard crew fit and weld steel to these shapes and it is no small feat, even for the most experienced!
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