The Dare in Dry-dock for One Week

Each year during the winter months when the weather conditions are often windy and not conducive to treasure hunting, Mel Fisher’s crew takes time to perform necessary maintenance work to our fleet of treasure salvage vessels. By doing minor repairs and routine maintenance work each year, the boats are able to avoid more costly major overhauls. 

This past weekend, the Dare was hauled from the water into dry dock at Robbie’s Marina on Stock Island not far from where the boats are usually docked. It is a very precise and tedious operation to remove such a large vessel from the water.

The Dare weighs 90 tons and requires a series of six slings to evenly distribute her weight as she is lifted out of the water. Photographic records are kept each year to document the most ideal placement of these slings.

Operators must be sure they are positioned in such a way that they do not put pressure directly on the drive shafts. Wooden blocks are used between the straps of the sling and the boat to alleviate some of the strain that is placed on the stabilization wings so they do not break. A marina diver snorkels in the 62-degree water to ensure they are properly placed.

Once all of the straps are set in the correct locations, the enormous crane begins to slowly lift the vessel out of the water. Constant supervision is required to make sure that she comes out of the water in a straight position far enough from either side of the cement docks and not off balance. If an adjustment needs to be made, the crane is halted and re-lowered while marina staff reconfigures the angle of the boat. The crane then resumes lifting the vessel vertically out of the water. When the boat is high enough out of the water to clear the cement wall, the crane operator slowly inches the boat forward over dry land.

At this point Director of Operations Gary Randolph, Shore Manger Shawn Redding and Captain Jose ‘Papo’ Garcia make their initial assessments of the condition of the Dare’s hull. This year, upon first inspection, the ship’s hull appears to be in very good condition. All three of the men are happy with the way the two-year-old paint job has held up. All of the repaired hull plating, which were welded a few years ago, have remained in excellent condition.

New types of aluminum & zinc anodes were installed onto the belly of the ship to prevent deterioration of the aluminum hull.

The new anode is lower on the periodic table and therefore attracts corrosion that would otherwise affect the integrity of the hull itself.

Gary, Shawn and Papo all agree that the screens on the hull need to be cleaned and three of the intake valves used to pull water in to cool the engine will also need to be replaced. These are minor repairs that will not be time consuming, or expensive. The only other immediately obvious task is that the hull will need to be sanded and painted, which is typical. The time the Dare spends in dry dock should be no longer than a week to ten days. As the pressure washing begins, all is looking positive for the Dare’s trip to the dry docks this winter and she should be back in the water searching for gold very soon. In the meantime, the Magruder is out at the wreck site keeping up the search for the sterncastle and the remaining treasures of the Atocha.

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