Folks, we just returned home after a 3 month stint working on Mercy’s Vessel. An amazing amount of work was accomplished this year. Since we started work in late March, the shipyard has performed about $170,000 worth of work, and volunteers have done about $400,000. What we have undertaken is a task that is far larger than anyone realized when we started a couple of years ago, but we are oh so close to finishing.
We started in March with the overhaul of the port propulsion diesel. This went very fast and well thanks to the excellent help from Tony Smith and Paul Pecou of Sardis Lake Baptist Church in Sardis, Mississippi, and my pastor Steve Loy from Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Burlington, NC. We did an in place overhaul replacing the pistons, rings, liners, and bearings.
Jay Edwards and I then worked on aluminum corrosion in the main cabin. There was a good amount of it and it took us quite a while, but the cabin is much stronger now as a result of this work.
The shipyard repaired holes in the steel decking in the main cabin, moved the support columns to prepare for rebuilding the cabin, and then moved the rear wall to increase the size of the main cabin. Next the shipyard worked on re-routing the diesel exhaust. We switched the exhaust from a dry exhaust to a wet exhaust system to make more room for the interior construction. Our propellors were removed and sent to a vendor to be cleaned, checked, and polished. The shafts were removed to allow the bearings to be replaced. Two 500 gallon tanks to hold our freshwater were put into the fuel compartment, and two more were put into the sanitary compartment to act as our septic tanks. The waster water tanks required a valve to put in to allow draining the water at sea, and a separate valve to allow pumping the tank in port.
Frank Olafson from Neuse Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC agreed to build the new interior of the main cabin and the second deck that we volunteers added to the boat. Paul Pecou from Sardis Lake Baptist came to the boat in June and worked until the end of October. Paul did our plumbing, built the second deck, worked on re-wiring the diesel instruments, and put in new instruments in the pilot house. These two men were an answer to prayer. Mike Woznak from Neuse Baptist was there frequently to assist Frank and to do a lot of odd jobs that needed to be done.
Mary and I did a lot of deck grinding on the interior and exterior in addition to working on every other aspect of the project. We just went where we were needed.
Later in the summer, the shipyard finished work on the fuel tank expansion and we were able to close out the tank. The shipyard welder welded the seams on the upper deck (we built it out of galvanized steel tubing clad with aluminum sheeting…we riveted the aluminum to the steel, but then welded the aluminum sheets together and to the aluminum deck)
Four churches came for a week each to help work on the boat. They were Centerville Baptist of South Boston, Va, Good News Baptist from Chesapeake, Va, Unity Baptist from Ripley, Mississippi, and Sardis Lake Baptist from Sardis, Mississippi. Unity and Sardis Lake also sent 2 men for several days each earlier in the year. Volunteers also came for a day at a time from Nottingham Missionary Baptist in Nottingham, Pa. and the Christian Life Center of West Grove, Pa. These folks were all a tremendous blessing and were a great encouragement to those of us who worked long term on the boat.
In September we sandblasted the hull and then put on primer. Additionally we put the anti-fouling paint on the bottom of the hull. Later in October we sandblasted the deck and inside of the splash rail and primed those areas.
We have stopped work for this year. The boat can be put in the water now, but in the spring we will go back facing about 6 weeks of work to make it ready to sail. There should be very little, if any, work for the shipyard. Volunteers should be able to do just about all the work.