Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The other day while my boss and I were bringing a boat around to the boatyard, we both made an observation at just about the same time - if there was ever one thing that could absolutely distinguish between those that have and those that don't, it is the world of boats. It is easy to assume that those that have the huge boats, the mega yatchs, the big cruisers and the like, are in the category of the "haves", while those that have small run abouts, daysailers the odd john boat and such are in the category of the "have nots". At first I thought this myself, and agreed with it, but all of that is relative. Kind of like old Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol", I would just about bet that the "haves" with their big ungainly boats, just don't have as much fun out there on the water as the "have nots". How can boating be fun, when there is nothing to it? Between the cruise control, the autopilot and the paid crew, how much fun can flaunting the size of your wallet really be? Or having to make a million preparations just to clear the dock for an afternoon sail or run on the river? I have seen more genuinely happy people out there in relatively small boats having an absolute blast, with just what they have. So where does that put me? I guess I might fall into the category of the "have somes", but I know when I am undersail, be it for a longer cruise or just a weekend sail, I am really happy and feel genuinely fortunate to have what I have.
Speaking of having some, I wanted to make note of the fact that I have some really great people out there supporting me and pulling for me, and helping me along the way. I'd like to especially tip my hat to a few folks that have really helped and made all this possible.
First off I'd like to wish a happy birthday to my sister, tomorrow she turns _ _ and I would like to wish her a great day. This blog is entirely possible thanks to her setting it up and kicking me in the butt to write. I'd also like to say thanks for all the hospitality she and her family (Stuart, Callie, Andrew, Emily..and Cleo the Cat) have extended me and Spook during the past 8 months here - some great meals, a laundry, the ability to get in out of the wet, and a place to sew. Thanks Liz, and happy birthday.
I'd also like to thank my Mom and Dad - I'd like to thank my mom for worrying about me, God knows someone needs to, and for just being my mom, and to my Dad for offering insight and being there when I needed a hand. I don't think I'd have a love for the ocean and boats like I do if it weren't for my mom and dad.
I really have to say thanks to Gary and Alice, without them all this would still be a dream - courtesy of them I have a this wonderful boat - my magic carpet ready to take me off to far away lands and great adventures. She really is a great boat, and I can't thank them enough for her.
Beth and Mike, thanks for being there, for still accepting me, and for a great dog and a good horse, it has been a long ride and sometimes a bumpy one at that. I know I have thanked you guys before, but I figured I'd just say it one more time.
To my friend Ali, for lending an ear and a great cold remedy, and for having patience. I promise there will be a cup of coffee or two, and maybe a beer and a rueben. Thank you for the great stories, and a good laugh when I really needed it.
It is almost time to go, and I would suppose a bit of the butterflies are starting to settle in, I know there are so many things left to do, but they will come in their own time I suppose, Arden is definitely more capable now than the was a year ago, and she was probably ready to go then. I would say that a boat is a never ending evolution, as you go along you find things that could be done differently or better, or see some great idea you just have to use on some other boat. I guess there are always loose ends to tie up.
Arden's engine water pump came in today, I suppose it will be installed tomorrow during lunch, it really is not that hard a job - 5 bolts, a gasket, one hose and a gallon of antifreeze - but the trouble that could have caused underway.... I was reminded once again at just how expensive boat life can be at times, it seems that anything with the word "marine" tacked on it seems to cost 5 times what it would for a car or a house or anything else in this world. I guess I was lucky finding the water pump for $225, I was quoted $718 from one outlet and $528 from another. I guess when it all is said and done I could have made do and just sailed, but I do need the engine for charging batteries if nothing else. I'm not quite sure if I am good enough yet to sail into the slip, if I had to I suppose I'd make it happen, but I am much relieved to have an engine in good health again.
Well I guess that will wrap it up for the evening, Spook says it is time to go for that last walk for the night, God knows she will wrestle with me for half the night if we don't go burn off a bit of that energy.
Monday, November 16, 2009
The November nor'easter finally blew itself out Friday night, after over 3 days of rain and wind...and a lot of misery here at the marina. It wasn't bad enough that I would come home from work soaked and chilled, but, it is a bit more miserable on the boat when it is wet than in a house. Boats, due to their construction, often times get a lot of condensation aboard when it is damp out - usually it is warmer inside than out, the inside of the hull is cool, and much like that cold drink in the summer, the boat starts to "sweat" - on the inside. Usually it isnt too bad, and only lasts for a day or so, but as wet as it was outside, and all the wet stuff aboard (wet clothes, wet shoes, wet dog...) I actually had to break out towels to wipe down the interior walls. It got to the point on Thursday night where I actually had a drip onto my bed and I realized my pillow was soaked. Not fun, and, the entire boat got a wipe down after that.
So the rain tapered off through Friday night, and Saturday came with a light mist and over cast skies, but no real wind and no driving rain. The boom tent I had made at the end of the summer held up really well, I left it up to help shield the cabin from some of the rain, and, I wanted to see how durable it was in the wind. It did really well and took no damage, even in the few 50 mph gusts we had. I can't say the same for my flag, it looks a bit worse for wear, and I will have to replace it before I sail. I did come up with a good solution for flag wear though, when I get the new flag I am going to run it through the sewing machine to reinforce the stripes and the hem. Maybe that way it will last a bit longer and hold up better in high winds. The weather having broken allowed me to get out and get back to work on the boat once more. Saturday's main project ended up being the safety net for Spook. This net runs the length of the boat, all the way forward to all the way aft, and is woven through the lifelines and the stanchions that support the lifelines. Now you might ask, how hard can that be. Well I can tell you, much harder than it seems. Much. A lot. So much, that it became an aggravation. The boat is curved, and the net is flexible, so no worries, right? Wrong. It was definitely a process of trial and error to get it to fit right and to look right. But, after several attempts, I got the starboard side done, and luckily for me the boat is symmetrical, so the port side was much easier. I just had to count the number of knots between stanchions on the stbd side, and then copy it on the port side. 100, 101, 102, 103, the phone rings, I lose count, and have to start over again. Then I ask my friend on the other end of the line to keep track of the numbers I am calling out, and I still got it messed up. Somewhere between 29 and 39 I missed some numbers, and it threw it all off, again. I finally got it all straight, and the started on getting it all secured. It was a good bit of rope work to get it all secured to the stanchions, and I was not overly impressed with my knot work, but it is secure, and I can always work on the knots and lashings as I sail to get it looking absolutely ship shape.
Sunday came, and the weather was gorgeous. I was up at 5, and by 6 I was showered, Spook had gotten her morning run in, andwe were ready to start work on the boat again. Since the day was so nice, and the weather so good and warm, I figured it was a good time to do a bit of bright work. The dorade box (cabin ventilator) that I had stripped and epoxied a few weeks ago was ready for vanish, almost. The final coat of epoxy I had applied blushed out really bad, and needed to be sanded down. So here I am, at the crack of dawn, up at the picnic table sanding away. Once again I was reminded what a beautiful piece of wood it was, it has incredible coloring and beautiful grain. (pictures coming soon) I applied a total of 3 coats of varnish Sunday, I need to do a light sanding and put on a final coat this week. While I was doing all this brightwork I decided to conduct a bit of an experiment. I have used varnish before, and a product called Cetol. Cetol is supposed to last as long as varnish, and have alot less upkeep, and the application is supposed to be easier. I will attest to the ease of application, but, so far I have not been totally impressed with its performance. Cetol now comes in several colors and finishes, I prefer the Natural Teak. It used to only come in this very bright, very ugly orange, and they also have a clear, that is supposed to be similar to varnish. N0w I have heard that if you apply the regular type of Cetol, and then cover it with Cetol Clear, it lasts longer. It does not say on the label that you need to cover it in clear, so I didn't originally. And, the clear makes the final product extremely slick, not something you necessarily want on a boat. So here is the experiment. I applied straight varnish to the dorade box and the cabin hand rails today, and I also put a fresh application of Cetol on the cabin top drip rail and hatches. I am going to watch their performance, and see which lasts longest for me. Both applications got three coats of finish, so it will really be an apples to apples comparison. I may up the ante by doing the forward section of drip rail with a coat or two of clear, and see how all three compare.
Sunday was also a good day to clean the bottom of my inflatable dingy. I had used it most of the summer when I sailed, and I was not as good about hauling it out after use as I probably should have been. It has been out of the water for about 2 months now, but I never really seemed to have the time to get it cleaned up, so I tackled that Sunday mid morning, or should I say rather it tackled me. I was really impressed with how few barnacles I had on the bottom of it ( yes it was floating beside the boat long enough to get some barnacle growth) and I had thought they would be very hard to remove, but the edge of the scrub brush and the pressure washer took care of those quite nicely. What did surprise me though was just how tenacious the dried slime was. Here in the central Chesapeake Bay we get really good growths of slime on the hull. This stuff grows fast, grows on everything, and, as it turns out, once dried has better adhesion properties than epoxy. It took about an entire bottle of bleach, a lot of scrubbing, and the wonderful pressure washer to blast all this stuff loose. I suppose it is all a learning experience though, I will definitely think twice before I leave the dinghy in the water for any length of time again. They make an anti fouling paint for inflatables, but I am not sure if I am ready to experiment with that yet. To add yet another chore to the list, I decided that since the dinghy was now clean, what better time to test the outboard. Now I have come across a fairly new 6hp outboard for the dinghy recently, and I got it for a pretty good deal. It was left unused for a year or so, but, it looked good, and seemed to have no outward signs of neglect or abuse. Knowing that I would probably be facing some old gummy fuel issues, I tore down the carb, cleaned it, and then tried starting it. It started and ran, but I still had a few fuel related problems. It didnt want to idle, and, it really liked the choke lever. Not a bad thing if the dinghy is idling at the dockside, but, since it is a sizable engine for my dinghy, and, it needs to be at almost 1/3 throttle to get it into gear and keep it running, my test flights were rather comical. At first it was trimmed wrong, so as I put it in gear the nose on the dinghy rose up at an alarming rate to an alarming angle. And this thing moves. really moves. The only immediate cure was to let of the throttle, which got the engine to sputtering. So back in the throttle, and off to the moon again. On off, on off...I was hanging on, trying to keep it running, trying to stay aboard,and the whole time looking like a bobble head doll as the the dinghy rocked and jerked across the marina. The guys on the docks were rolling watching me ride this bucking inflatable bronco, so much so that one of them asked if I wanted my motorcycle helmet for the next test run...
So the final accomplishment for the weekend was a set of jacklines for me. Jacklines are lines or lengths of nylon webbing that run the length of the boat so that one can attach a tether from their safety harness to this line, and therefore be tied to the boat at all times. I had planned to use nylon webbing, because it lays flat on deck and wont be a trip hazard or an ankle buster. So when I was in Annapolis the other weekend, I picked up 80 feet of 4500 lb nylon webbing at Sailrite. I measured out the lengths I needed, so while I was up at Liz's Sunday, I made use of her sewing machine and sewed loops into the ends of my cut lengths of webbing. I was really pleased with how they turned out, and they will be a huge safety addition to the boat. Spook has her netting, and I have my tether and jacklines, so I have not too many worried about the two of us staying aboard.
Quite a busy and productive weekend, no wonder I seem to be more tired on Monday morning than I was on Friday afternoon....