Surgery in a boatyard part one (5-1)

When surfing on the crest of waves in 2018,  “Breskell’ song was not enough to persuade Neptune. The North West Passage remained tightly closed.   Two talented artists decided to intercede on my behalf.  Neptune alone was not powerful enough.  Why not appeal to its northern counterparts:  Njörd, Thor, even Odin?

Vikings known how to please them.  They carved dragoon’s on the bow of their drakkars.

Viking drakkar…

Breskell was born in Brittany a “galloping horse”.  She is now a born-again “sailing dragoon”.  In front of my new “horse- dragoon”, I hope that, up north, gods of those frigid waters will open tomorrow the gates of my heaven.  Before completing this rebirth, a surgery is needed.

First, a minor plastic surgery.

Remember these holes I drilled voluntarily to drain an excess of humidity, deep down, inside the hold of “Breskell” to avoid mildew ?

My self-inflicted wound in “Breskell” hold.

Preventive surgery, you can call it.  Now, it’s dry, without mildew or moisture.  Time to seal off my self-inflicted wounds to the unfortunate “Breskell”.  If you listen to truly compassionate sailors, they all affirm that there is no better way to understand the “soul of one boat” than to share part of her suffering.  All you need is a good knife.

And a sharp blade.
And a sharp blade.

Working on boats, numerous opportunities exist.  I don’t remember exactly my mistake.  Just that I drove the blade almost to the bone. Don’t panic sailor, I told myself.  Think about poor “Breskell” with her bowel inside-out in the open sea last year.  Just so small a blade Olivier… and in and out so quickly!  Don’t panic.  Damn, it’s hurts as hell.  I felt the pain going slowly first through my teeth, then seeping slowly down to my right toes. Swinging the cut in alcohol doesn’t help with the pain.

Killing the germ.

Still, that radical intervention prevented any infection. As with my early preventive surgery on Breskell, the spread of the disease was contained.

Let it cure.

Duck-tape it all” and let’s it cure. The next morning, my wound was just a bad short memory to share with “Breskell”. Poor boat, she was not yet at the end of her suffering.

A major surgery now.

1- First assessing the damage.

It all started with taking off the dressing out of the old wound, a remembrance of my epic fight against some aggressive growlers last year. An impressive Arctic K.O both for « breskell » and for me.  I almost lost her.  And all of us along.

Two serious punches done during one ambush leaded by several icy thugs.  They took advantage of high winds, stormy seas and the cover of darkness.  Unfair.  My old boat took a good beating .  To mend quickly the structure in a war zone during this emergency, we quickly patched the punched area with hastily made pads.  Pieces of my rear cabin floor for this occasion and not an easy fix in frigid waters…

Not an easy fix for Eric, head down overboard.

Later, after some scavenging in Arctic Bay municipal dump, we returned with aluminum plasters.  Still ugly,  but already much stronger than my initial wrapping .

Two ugly patches..

2- Remove the plaster:  A bone setter crude approach!

Today, before her arduous and long sail home, “Breskell” needs some critical internal intervention before a final serious plastic surgery.

If dressing the wound was not child-play, to remove the plaster was even harder!  The two aluminum plates recycled from Arctic Bay’s dump were bolted on each side of the wound.  One inside the hull, the other outside.  For the inside one, removal was not so bad. The outside plate was another story altogether . We bonded it last year with “3M 291”.  Remember this name!  It was the caulking used to suture the wound. Good luck when, later, you elect to take it out. Two hours for one single patch! 


3 screwdrivers, hammer, wood… Not an easy job.

Three more time spent to pull it off than to glue it in. And I used brutal forces. Around the operating field,  it was not a nice and smooth surgical choreography but a ruthless and crude bone setting operation.

3- let’s clean the mess around:

Just the beginning of a long and messy procedure.


Look at the injury : gruesome. The wound needs to be clean up.

Even worst on the port side…

In doing so, be careful not to cut the boat outer layer too deeply,  doing more harm than good. Then, remove old skins and every other rotten parts.  What about the residual left-over scars ?  Later, the last round of plastic surgery should take care of that.

“Breskell” internal structures needed also to gain some strength. It’s time to act.  To beat the hell out of some  arrogant icy aggressor, the boat needs to show some teeth.  Look at this spur…  I am figuring how to implant it.

Preparing the implants

One giant frontal tooth implanted deep inside her bow, ready to bite any attacker.

Her new implant …

Reinforcing all the front area, I need some surgical cement and a mesh. This procedure based on epoxy and fiberglass is well-known in the boating industry.  I also learned last year that, up north, some growlers don’t play it fair.  They dive for poor “Breskell” unprotected belly. I repeated this reinforcement procedure under the waterline twice in case of another vicious aggression.  I hope that a little more epoxy and some added mesh “down there” will do the trick.

At the end of the day…

At the end of the day, covered with decaying old parts, with powder and residual boat skin, I am exhausted but delighted.

This massive reconstructive surgery is going pretty well.   From time to time, my patient moans under some unorthodox manipulations. I sympathize.

Harsh intervention.

My bruised finger helps me connect with the deep complaints coming from the “soul of my boat”.