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The Captain's Blog

Why Dry-Docking Matters

The Captain

30 Sep 2011

I don’t know about you, but I’m a believer in an annual phyiscal exam. The older I get, the more concerned I am about the aches and pains that beset all of us, and by all of the things I can’t see and can’t know about until the doctor has poked, prodded and probed. Same goes for the Emeraude.

Less than two weeks ago, we relaunched after three weeks out of the water during our annual dry-docking. I can’t speak for the other boats on Halong Bay, but we believe that annual maintenance is mission critical. Everyone would agree that maintenance is key, but the maintenance I’m talking about is major.

We haul the boat out of the bay, lever her up on support wedges and then put some 100 shipyard workers to business inside and out. Every year, I’m especially interested in the vessel’s hull. In all my years at the helm on the Emeraude, we’ve never scraped her on the bay’s limestone or skimmed a sandbar. But I want that thing combed over anyway.

As some of you know, a tourist vessel sank in Halong Bay earlier this year. The hull is where problems happen. I’m happy to report that our hull is in stunning shape. And that there’s been negligible wear on the two-metre sheets of metal that comprise the hull. How do we know? We x-ray the plates. We’re as thick as we need to be down under.

So what else do we do in dry-dock? We inspect the propellor shaft. We clean the water inlets. Remove all the barnicles. And we paint. Paint looks pretty, to be sure, (and who doesn’t want to be pretty?), but marine paint protects surfaces against the corrosive influences of the sea. So there’s a deeper purpose than cosmetic enhancement.

We do do much by way of cosmetics on the vessel. We paint and varnish throughout the cabins. This year, we’ve found a new way to treat the brass in our cabins such that they look as stunning as we all dream brass should look on a ship at sea. We’ve also upgraded each cabin’s safety features with hammers. We hope we’ll never use them, but we’re glad they’re there.

From a sheer comfort perspective - afterall, what is passage on the Emeraude if not for the opportunity to find your bliss - we’ve brought on board a new fleet of 40 faux wicker chaise longue. I know, I know, we all love the appeal of real wicker. But let me talk to you about the sanding and varnishing that goes into the upkeep of real wicker. Year after year, we did maintain our wicker with lots of man-hours, partly because we weren’t satisfied that the faux wicker was as aesthetically appealing. But you know what? It is. It’s just as beautiful as the real thing, and you’ll never know the difference.

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