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Old 11-12-2007, 18:22   #1
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yachtrodney - Launched at Last (after 15 years)

Hello everyone from Botany Bay - Sydney - Australia.

A giant man and a tiny dog - that's us alright. Rodney and Penny (thedogpaddler).
And it's been 15 years in the building - for this giant 75' - 75 ton ferro yacht - and longer since I last felt the sea under me cruising.

The yacht was finally transported to the water and launched 2 weeks ago - and we are still at the dock of the shipyard - as we utilize their power to do many jobs on board - before we move out to a mooring in the Bay for a month or so over Christmas - to continue to make the yacht sea ready.

The circumstances of this huge yacht are unusual - in that having designed and built it over many years - in the end I had to cut it completely in half (because of it's height and the nowadays - thousands of cable and wires that cross all the roads) - transport both sections to the water - and re-assemble & reconnect the halves in the water.

So far as I know - this has never been attempted before - anywhere. Let alone on a yacht this size.

But - unbelievably - it all went perfectly - and here we sit - afloat.

For anyone that might be interested - there are some very recent photos of the lifting - loading & launching - at the following links at our website Homepage

I'm looking forward to settling back in - to the cruising, liveaboard lifestyle (although we've been living on board on land for the last 4 years anyway) - and to all the great people and places you find along the way.

I would be happy to write back to anyone who has the time to correspond.

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Old 11-12-2007, 19:07   #2
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Fantastic effort Rodney... I think most of us are merely....Stunned! Good on ya Mate and we look forward to hearing more

Your web site is brilliant!
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Old 11-12-2007, 19:27   #3
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The top was cut off with the loose cushions intact and moved and then stuck back on the hull all without the cushions falling off???????????????????

The hull had everything in it, including the books in the bookshelves while the top was cut off and moved and reassembled?????????????

I humbly bow to you!

How many people must have told you that you're nuts to try it! And heres the evidence you done it!

As Mo would say: "Strike me Lucky!"

Well done!

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Old 11-12-2007, 19:50   #4
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What did you use to rejoin the halves? How did you reconstitute the integrity of the steel supporting the concrete? Have you taken the boat out (close to shore I hope) into any kind of steep chop. or swell to see if it leaks?

Given the structural properties of ferocement... whew...
I'd sure test the strength of your hull before I went very far offshore.
Good luck to you.

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Old 11-12-2007, 19:56   #5
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having just put a boat in the water myself, see
Easytalking :: View topic - sv **********
i absolutely take my hat off to you, i am out of your league all together
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Old 11-12-2007, 20:16   #6
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Wow. Very cool. Nice homepage, too!
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Old 11-12-2007, 20:18   #7
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Unfreaking believable.

Well done!
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Old 11-12-2007, 20:29   #8
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Aloha Rodney,
Welcome aboard!! Good to have you here. Now you can show the rest of us how to accomplish big things. Anyway, if you have questions about little things maybe we can help you out.
Kind Regards,
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Old 11-12-2007, 20:51   #9
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Congrats on what you've acheived. Just one question, and I'm not doubting that you knew what you were doing, but why did you rejoin the two halves in the water?
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Old 11-12-2007, 22:13   #10
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wow. Wow. WOW.

CruisingCat raises a good question, but after looking at the photos, I'm guessing the the boat (sorry, yacht!) is too big for the lift, as well.

all I can say is... JEEZ! I mean, I have all sorts of questions, but did you add connecting pieces? Some of the photos show steel plates near the cut line. Or are those for the bulkheads?

Anyway, nice lines, great cockpit. I particularly like the steering station.

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Old 11-12-2007, 22:28   #11
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HEY PENNY...woof woof ruff woof !! woof wine woof!! from Cooper the philoshipher woof ruff rooouff rif....(at 13 years old i dont paddle as much as i used to.) ....pps wooof ruweoooeee....(nice pair of ears babe)
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Old 11-12-2007, 22:32   #12
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Thank You for the wlecome - here are some answers

Thank you everyone for your welcome and congrats - it's good to be back amongst the folk who really can comprehend what is involved.

It surprises even me - every time I look at some of the pictures - and you're quite right to question my sanity - as I have done many times along the way.

I appreciate you taking the time to have a look at - which I started out doing just to learn - and has developed as I have - to now contain thousands of pages and photos. But in all of that - there are few of the yacht and the construction of all these years. That was simply to preserve some measure of privacy.

I am however, a prolific email newsletter sender and those who have been on the email list of friends and family have followed the whole 'cutting' of the yacht over the last few years - I'm sure with disbelief. But all with hopeful support that I would achieve the goal.

There have been photo albums of the yacht - it's surroundings - and in and about - uploaded - but not listed on thedogpaddler menus and here are two of them:

Onboard and Inside yacht - large album of photos:

There is also a 'YachtViews' Flash album at the following link:
YachtViews Web Gallery

************************************************** **************************
In answer to a few questions:

Loose items - and everything in place:

Little Penny and I lived aboard the yacht for the last few years - and even right up to sleeping in the cockpit of the top half parked on the side of the road - waiting for the 'Midnight Run' - under police escort (2) and six other escort cars - for the 2 sections to be transported the 30 miles to the shipyard.

You will see from photos in the albums above - that I had to carry out the cutting work in such a way - that I could still eat and sleep as normal at the end of the day - and the yacht was for the most part kept liveable despite the horrendous task of cutting ferro-cement walls every now and then.

And even though - a fair bit of time was spent in packing and stowing loose things - from books to pantry items - the yacht was built after all - to be a yacht - and to go to sea. So that things like bookshelves, video shelves, glass display cabinets, and cupboards - and all things like TV's, microwave, stove etc - are all built and secured - yachtlike. It should not be possible for books and videos to fall out from their restrained shelves.

So you'd like to think that travelling on the back of a giant trailer - along highways and motorways should not pose any problem for a lot of the gear. Beyond that - all the loose gear and stuff you see in the bottom half of the yacht - was pretty safe - and only a couple of small things could have blown out.

I was more concerned that it might rain - than anything else - but it was predicted to be the 3 totally dry days - and so it was.

************************************************** *
In the next few days I will be sending out another email with a further selection of photos I've just done of the rest of the lifting - loading - and moving. There are some incredible shots.

************************************************** *
What did you use to rejoin the halves?

Please forgive me for taking an easy way out - but I will copy here - part of a letter I sent to an old schoolfriend a while back - for your info:

[Penny & I live aboard the 75' - 80 ton ferrocement yacht that I have designed & built from nothing, alone.
It has been now more than 12 years of construction - the yacht has been ready to go to the water - and operational - for a few years - but it is now too tall - at 20' (6m) of hull height - to be transported to the sea - with the many thousands of cable/internet wires that now crisscross every street - and they are all nearly 2m lower than the electricity wires - this situation, which has develeoped since the yacht was started - was not foreseen - or I would have designed the yacht differently.

The only solution - has been to cut the yacht completely in half - horizontally - like an egg carton - about 3' above the waterline - so that it can be transported on 2 trucks - with no limitations - anywhere - and then rejoined at the waterside shipyard (in literally a few hours and days) & launched.

This task - is something that has never been done before - anywhere - and every step of it is new and unknown - and every part of the process is at my design & doing alone.

You should bear in mind that the yacht was fairly completed and ready to go - when this transport problem became impossible - so there are things such as full bathroom, tiled shower room, bedroom, full kitchen, cupboards, display cabinets, bookshelves, walls, furniture, etc - plus all electrical, plumbing, hydraulics - built in, and fitted to the yacht. (the finished yacht has 3-4 split levels, several bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, full walkaround engine room, etc)

Every part of the yacht - and every aspect of the interior - has now been cut in half - and many hundreds of steel reconnecting plates have been individually fabricated, shaped, painted, drilled - for the app. 2000 bolts that will be used to rejoin the two halves - in the hope that the finished bonded boat will be again as strong as is possible - and capable of fulfilling its role as a large ocean going, liveaboard, cruising yacht.

The hull itself will have a stainless steel belt all around - reconnecting the 2 halves - with 600 ss coach-head bolts and steel backing plates on the inside - every one of the 30 internal rib frames each side will be rejoined with 2 large steel plates and a dozen bolts on each.

You can see from the yacht albums - where the interior has been cut and drilled - and also the progress of the cutting of the outer hull itself - which is now almost completed. I have been sending out regular photos of the cutting work and have included a couple for you.

This whole job of cutting the yacht in half - and rejoining it - has taken several years of work - and has proved to be more difficult than the building - it has also tested me - as I've struggled to proceed with it - and constantly lacked the motivation to 'destroy' what I spent so long to create properly - and have delayed and procrastinated the cutting at every step - looking for anything else to do instead - (and the computer has been a large part of that time wasting) - where previously, I spent every day - almost 365 days a year working on the yacht to build it - I have frequently - in the last year or two - spent only a day or 2 a week - on the actual 'cutting the yacht in half' job - and will look to do ANY other project on the boat than that. (see for example the big job just finished of doing the 6' x 6' bowfitting & anchor winches)

But anyway, we are nearing the end - which is a mystery - yet to unfold - will it be success - or total disaster - only time will tell - but either way it will be fascinating to see.]

************************************************** ************
I have used Sikaflex Marine Sealant Adhesive - on all cut joins - but it is only intended to be a sealant barrier - and does not give any structural strength. Sikaflex Polyurethane was used - rather than an epoxy - because some moverment and flexing is inevitable - and there is no give with epoxy - it would crack - so a 'flexible' sealant must be used. The integrity of the hull will - I hope - be recovered by the hundreds of steel plates and thousands of bolts - which I am in the process of re-applying.

You should also bear in mind that the bottom section of the hull - is a floating 'yacht unto itself'. With the cut being nearly 3' above the waterline - and as you can see from the photos - is the floating, bouyant section - and the re-addition of the top - has simply pushed it further down to it's waterline.

All the outside SS belt plates will be sealed down - every coach head bolt will be sealed down - and all plates will be sealed and cleaned around the edges. And when done - the appearance of the SS belt and the rows of coachhead bolts is quite OK.

The yacht - even now - just held together by a number of wall plates and the guide plates - seems extremely strong. As they had to use the barge with buffers - to try and push the yacht sideways - by the top - to get it out of the Travel Lift Dock - to where we are now - when we were sitting on the bottom - and even using the full force of the barge - and pushing the yacht over sideways - it didn't seem to bother it at all.

I have always taken reassurance from the fact that there are a number of full height and width - ferrocement walls inside the yacht - that can be rejoined using large steel plates either side - and perhaps 40 half inch bolts to the metre. There are also 2' long steel plates - either side of each of the 30 frames on both sides of the yacht - which have 12 bolts in each one as well.

It does seem to me - that I have done as much as anyone could do - to regain the strength of the hull.

But nevertheless - it IS a completely unknown situation - and only time will tell.

I have no doubt the yacht will have no trouble motoring anywhere in calm waters - but there's certainly a lot of sealing, plating and bolting to be done - before I would venture into the arms of the open sea.

************************************************** ************
Rejoining the halves in the water?

Yes - I must admit - for a long time - I searched to find a place and a way - to do it on land - and then put the yacht in the water. Always it was either inaccessible to us - because of the size of the yacht and trucks - or the cost was astronomical and beyond me.

To have launched on my own with cranes - as I did with my first yacht 22 years ago - was now financially out of my reach.

This was really the only place - that we could guarantee to get to - but the problem here was that the Travel Lift crane had a capacity of 68 tons - and could NOT lift and launch the entire yacht of 75 tons.

I knew all these circumstances all along - and devised a method of using curved and bent guide plates - bolted to strategic walls and frames - both longtitudinally and across ways - that would guide the top section into it's correct position (on land or water). Remember - there are over 2000 bolts that must line up perfectly - there can be NO ERROR. And with sealant and steel spacer strips in place - there can only be CORRECT or total disaster.

Once the top section engaged the sets of guide plates - and began to be lowered the last foot - it was guided and locked - in every direction - so that when it was say - 25mm or an inch or so above home - the entire 2 sections were locked firmly into alignment and MUST be absolutely correct.

Here is where - doing it on water - can be to your advantage. Provided it is reasonably calm (which it was) - then - as the top section engages the guide plates - the bottom section in the water is free to move and self align. This proved to work perfectly - because the Travel Lift operator was calling out - that he couldn't see the cut line - to see if it was lined up. I called out to him to just 'hold' - and allow the bottom section to adjust. Then we lowered it to within the last couple of inches and waited again - as the bottom and top locked themselves perfectly into the guide plates - and stopped moving. Then when the top was 'dropped' the last little bit - it was perfectly aligned.

It is really quite unbelievable to see just how correctly it is all aligned - even the timber work of the bookshelves is so correct - you can run your finger down and hardly feel the cut - it worked better than I'd ever imagined.

************************************************** ******
But rest assured - we will not be going to sea - until I'm absolutely certain the yacht is as 'seaworthy' as I can make it. For now - I am just so happy to be back on the water. Even if it's just anchored in the Bay. I still say - that the 'worst day on the water' is still better than 'the best day in the paddock'.

kind regards

Rodney & Penny ('I like paddocks')

PS I cruised from 88-91 aboard my previous 55' ferro yacht 'Duke' - through Solomons. Micronesia, Truk, Guam, Hong Kong, Thailand - then selling the yacht in Hong Kong and returning home - only to start the madness all over again - even worse.
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Old 11-12-2007, 23:03   #13
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OK, I'm convinced. Joining in the water was an ingenious idea - now that I think about it, it may have been impossible to join these on land, something would have torqued. The self-aligning properties of your design are slick.

Welcome to the forum, I like it a bunch, I'm sure you will too.

And, we all know Ozzies like to go big, but this is BIG.

Cool web site, too - I'm a cat guy, but Penny is cool. For a dog...
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Old 11-12-2007, 23:34   #14
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You so need to take it out for a run to stir up the disbeleivers.... Like do a Sydney-Hobart or sommit. It really is fantastic!

I'm sure you've put the work in to make it sound at the join, and yes, having the bottom half floated was a bit of inspiration to get around a problem.

A boss once told me (words to the effect of): Creativity will get around a budget problem.
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Old 11-12-2007, 23:39   #15
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Exscuse me while I pick my bottom jaw up off the ground and dust it.
Several others have already stated what I was thinking as I looked through these amasing photo's. And I feel that no words can realy describe what I and I am sure others are thinking. MATE!!! that is simply increadible.
The only comment I can make (and trust me, it is so amature'ish compared to skill you show) but I would have happily trusted the strength and ease of working with FC to repair it in the same. What I mean here is, why not break some of the cement back to expose the steel work and weld said steel work back together and then plaster. I would attempt this exactly the same way as a standard repair of FC. That would save a lot of steel plate, a heck of a lot of back breaking hole drilling and a truckload of bolts. You wouldn't have to do the entire hull in one hit. Just break a few feet at a time and then leave a few feet to act as support and so on. Do it in a stitch method. Then you come back and do the few feet you missed the first time.
However, I ain't going to go anywhere near suggesting you are doing it wrong and you should do it in such and such away. I also bow to your ability.

For God so loved the world..........He didn't send a committee.
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