Wooden ships evoke many romantic images; proud vessels riding the high seas, sails billowing, foamy seas breaking at the bow as the sun sets in the west, etc etc! For 11 months of the year that may be the case for that remaining month the story is very different!
Every wooden vessel must be dry docked at least once each year in order to do the necessary maintenance and obtain the essential certificates to allow her to sail on for the following year and Dive Damai sets aside 3 to 4 weeks each year to carry out this work.
Damai I travelled to Surabaya in East Java at the start of January and was backed into a graving dock in an area called Tanjung Perak. Basically what happens then is the dock door is shut (much like a lock on a canal) and the water is pumped out leaving the ship high and dry, balanced on blocks of wood and propped up by seemingly matchstick-thin supports down each side.
Then the fun begins!
The hull is scraped clean of any fouling (barnacles and the like) and then a team of workers attack it with grinders, sanding off the old paint and allowing comprehensive hull checks to be carried out and repairs made. This year we had little work to do. The process is then reversed with a jet wash and application of priming and top coat anti-fouling paints over a few days leaving the hull as good as new below the waterline.
At the same time the rudder and propeller are removed and the shaft is pulled out, all to be checked, cleaned and prepared before being reinstalled.
This process takes around 5 or 6 days and meanwhile there is a long list of jobs to be completed while this is going on.
Dive Damai owns a spare main engine and we had already overhauled this so it was simply (?) a matter of breaking down the old one and dropping in the “good as new” one. Our team of 6 engineers completed this work and also installed a brand new generator which will be used with the compressor system and also to run the vessel when in port when we have no guests.
It’s a wooden ship so there are going to be leaks. But at Dive Damai we are always doing our best to minimize these and it was time to replace both of the decks at the stern of the vessel. A team of Javanese and Balinese carpenters worked 15-hour days to get the job finished on time.
A team of carpenters and our own crew worked equally hard on the guest cabins and around the vessel to bring our woodwork back to its pristine state. Refinishing walls and ceilings. Repairing broken and damaged wood and building and installing new furniture and structures from dawn to beyond dusk. Making everything look as good as new, like the toilet in cabin 6.
In cabin 5 there were two, new day beds built under the stern windows.
After 6 days it was time to refloat and the dock is flooded allowing the vessel to be pulled out on ropes so it is securely alongside the dock and can be prepared for departure back to Bali. No time to stop working though! Long days and nights are called for when time is precious.
Then it was time to head back to Bali, and a short break for most of the workers as KM Damai sails back to her home port for finishing.
Upon arriving it all starts again, the pressure is really on now with just 5 days until sailing!
A dive boat runs on systems- water, waste, diving, engines and many more and this is the time when these systems get a full overhaul renewing and replacing as necessary. Contractors in Bali had been working on our diving equipment. Compressors, Nitrox system, scuba tanks all had to be serviced and repaired, now it was time to reinstall these. Our fresh water production system, the Reverse Osmosis System, also had a complete overhaul.
While KM Damai was in Surabaya, the boat yard in Bali worked on refurbishing the fibreglass of our comfortable dive tenders which now look as good as new.
Finally on the 24th January KM Damai sailed to Labuanbajo to pick up her first set of guests. The work could go on for ever but now its time to clean her up and get ready for charter and another year of operation as one of the Premier Liveaboards of Indonesia.
Many thanks to Simon, our operations manager, and all our crew who have done another excellent job on caring and maintaining our vessels. Keep watching for more pictures….once the ship has been cleaned the pictures will look more shiny!