August, 2010 -- Bonaire Dinghy Repair


Click on the thumbnail for a map during this time period

A bit of background:  the Takks and the Terns decided one calm day, after a nice dive, to switch on the next day from a one-dive modality to a two-dive schedule.  That is, we would take sufficient scuba tanks so that we could each dive twice before returning to the dive shop and/or home vessels.  The reason:  we were interested in diving a couple of the dive sites that were located far far north of our mooring field; specifically Karpata and its neighboring dive sites.  If we were to take our dinghies that far away, it should be "worth it".  The Takks already owned four tanks, and the Terns supplemented their two tanks by renting two more.  So we were ready and eager the next morning.  So ready and eager that we ignored the sea conditions.  The wind had picked up, and it had swung to the south, which meant that close and steep waves were sweeping along the western coast of Bonaire heading straight for the Karpata.  We decided to go anyway, without much discussion or consideration.  As we would pass dive buoys along the way, Barb would quietly suggest that maybe we should just stop there and dive. Several times she succeeded in slowing me down enough so that the Terns could catch up and she could pose the quiet suggestion to them.  In each case, the "vote" appeared to be 3 to 1, and so we continued on.  And how was the trip going?  Up the back of a high wave, and then BAM down the front side with a violent crash.  Again and again.

We had a nice dive at Karpata, and Barb and I were pleased to find that Karpata is as nice as ever.  When we got back to the surface, we all decided to forego the second dive in the area, and to instead idle back through the steep waves toward Klein Bonaire, knowing that eventually we would be in the lee of Klein and would find the going a bit easier.   When at last we were indeed in the lee,  I noticed that our dinghy was unresponsive and "heavy".  We had a nice dive on the north side of Klein, and  returned to the dive shop and then to our respective vessels.   That evening, as is our habit, we raised the dinghy up to the level of Tusen Takk II's rub rail.  On a hunch, I leaned way out and removed the plug to the area between the dinghy's bottom and its floor.  Horrors!  Gallons and gallons poured out!

We had a dive scheduled for early next morning, and since it was close to our mooring, decided to go despite the problem.  At the conclusion of the dive, I inspected the dinghy and could clearly identify a large crack right in the middle of the bottom.   How had it gotten there?   We don't know.   But it seemed clear that the pounding from the previous day had opened or enlarged a crack in an area that somehow had already sustained a weakening injury.

So we lifted the dinghy all the way up to the upper deck of Tusen Takk II, tipped the dinghy on its side, and, with Hunter's assistance, patched the hole.   The pictures below tell the rest of the story.

Initial sanding of the area of the crack

Better view of the crack

Enlarging the hole to receive patch

Sanding down area to receive patch

Testing the lexan backing for fit

Doping up fiberglass cloth patch

View after some but not all patches are applied

Preparing the area to be painted

Closer view of the patched area

After the paint job

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