Saturday, March 6, 2010

Liz's retake on Arden

some things I did in photoshop class today....

A Waiting Game

The weather here in Ft Lauderdale has fallen into a predictable pattern, very cool upon waking up (40 something), warming up through the day to a great sunny afternoon, (60's or 70's) and then cooling slowly through the night. I am slowly working on my tan, no mom, I am not using sunblock, but yes, I am limiting my time in the sun. Suprisingly I have yet to burn, and maybe I just might be a light brown when I get back north.

Yesterday after walking Spook and a couple of cups of java, Tom took me out and about to get a few errands done and to get some supplies at West Marine. I finally found some liquid caulk, and just in time to do the caulking on the chainplate job. We hit a used book store, they had a great selection of authors I enjoy, but, they were a bit more pricey than I had expected. Oh well, seems like everything in Ft Lauderdale is more pricey than I am used to. Tom took me by a great Irish pub for lunch, Waxy O'Connors, and even though it seems to be a franchise, (they have them in Miami and a few other towns) the waitstaff was predominantly Irish, and a few of the customers sounded like they had just come out of the bog. They had a great Shepards Pie, and after a glass of two of Bass (Guinness is just a bit too stout for me) we made our way back to the house and it was time for boat work again.

The caulk I got was liquid polysulfide, and it is the perfect caulk to do the job on the chain plates. Being a liquid, it flows into every crevice, and does not have to be forced into holes the way typical caulk does. Polysulfide bonds to everything, is flexible, and can be sanded once dry. It can also be painted over, which most caulks resist. The only draw back to it is that it can take 3-4 days to dry, and I usually do not have that kind of time with the projects I get involved in to wait on caulk to dry for days. This time I have the time, and this is definitely the application for it, so it all fits into place. I also did a bit more bright work (varnishing) yesterday, the companionway hatch was showing a bit of wear, as was the aft hatch, so I did a light sanding and gave them 2 coats of Cetol, I think when I get back up north I will sand them all the way down, re caulk the joints, and refinish them completely.

Sven came by later yesterday with a guy whos boat that is tied up behind his, I am terrible with names, truly, but I think his name is Matt (might be Mark) and he comes from up near Chicago. He is in a 28 foot Beneteau that he had shipped from Chicago to here for the remainder of the winter and into the spring. I hopped a ride back over to Sven's boat with them, it had been a few days since I had been over, and we talked about, what else, sailing. Elias was there, and it was kind of a gathering of sailors for the everning. Sven had told Matt that I was heading over to Bimini in a few days, and if we can get it all worked out, now there may be 3 boats making the trip. I am going to go back over there and discuss that a bit more this morning with Matt.

I recieved a comment this morning from Lynda in Arizona, the woman that I had met the first night I was in Ft Lauderdale, she and her boyfriend came aboard for a bit and had marvelled at my boat and how I am out and about on her. Thanks for writing Lynda, glad you made it back to Arizona ok, and I hope you keep reading.

Today will be a bit of painting, more clean up, and planning for the Bimini crossing. If all goes well and the weather cooperates, looks like Tuesday may be the day.

Friday, March 5, 2010

White Wine and Sailboats

After working all day on the boat yesterday I was invited to dinner by Tom and Brooke, and we had a really nice evening on their patio drinking wine and talking about boats. Spook was invited as well, and she had a great time playing with their dogs. Tom and Brooke have 3 dogs, 2 poodles and a (I think) Llasa Apso, all of which are boat dogs and enjoy sailing.

We talked about routes to take to Bimini, and how long it would take to get there, and we talked about sailing in general. Sterling has done a whole lot of sailing all over the world, and there was a ton of sailing knowledge sitting around that table last night. Tom and Brooke have a 42 foot ketch they are working on restoring, and as we talked last night I asked Tom what his plans are, and they are to retire ( I misspoke before, Tom is not retired-yet) and go sailing. Where? Everywhere, where ever the winds will take them.

Tom made incredible burgers on the grill and Sterling whipped up a great macaroni and cheese with shrimp. We had a great meal and good fellowship, it is nice to be welcomed into someones home like this and made to feel at home, and the thing of it is, a week ago I didn't even know them - I would exchange pleasantries with Tom across the canal, but had no idea that I would be welcomed into their home like I have.

Sterling is going to talk to the folks at North Sails and see if he can use their loft to put reef points in my main sail, and I hope we can get that done soon so that I can get under way again. If not, I will have to utilize a sail loft on the other side of town, and it will cost me a bunch more than I'd like to spend and take another week or so to get done. I need to get this done though, because as it stands, Arden's sail plan will not let me heave to, I simply cannot make the sails small enough to sail in really heavy weather.

So that is the thing about sailing like I am, the people you meet and the fellowship out here on the water. It seems no matter where I go, I have met some incredible folks, and have made some good friends.

Sven came by yesterday in the afternoon, I had gone over to the boat yard to see him and Gabi in the morning, but they were both out running errands. I hope to get over there today and visit, but Sven and I have both been busy with boat work, but I'd like to get over there and visit a bit, and I am sure the kids are missing Spook.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Boat Work Goes On Forever

The past few days I have spent a good bit of time doing what I seem to do most on board Arden, and that is work. Mostly it is work that is making forward progress, things that have been on the to-do list, and sometimes new things that just crop up from an idea or a whim. Then of course there is basic maintenance, and that is constantly on going. And cleaning, seems like I never catch up or get ahead, but I do what I can to stay on top of it.

Yesterday and today I have spent most of the day working on getting my chain plates to seal up. For those not familiar, a chain plate is a flat piece of metal, normally stainless steel, that is bolted to the boat and connects the standing rigging (the stays and shrouds to the mast) to the hull. On Arden there are 6 chain plates, 3 per side, and of the 6, 2 have been consistently leaking since I launched the boat. Talk about an on going project. Last year I tried to rebed them (caulk them and make them water tight) but my efforts only worked for so long before the seep returned and I had a mess inside my cupboards. I even went as far as taking the Dremel Tool and routing out a new area around them and then using 5200 caulk, but that lasted only so long as well. Then a few months ago, well heck close to a year ago, I saw an article in Good Old Boat magazine that had one guy's fix to this.

On a lot of boats the chain plates are mounted outside the hull and bolt through to timbers on the inside, and I had considered doing this to Arden. It is a lengthy and involved job, and I decided to try the method described in Good Old Boat first before I commited to making that undertaking. Arden is set up like most boats, the chain plates go down through the deck in a slot, and the slot is cut a bit larger than the metal of the chain plate itself. This extra room allows for caulking compound to be squeezed in, and theoreticly that will keep any water out and the boat dry. However, all of this is subject to a lot of factors, expansion and contraction of the various materials, the bond between the caulk and the hull, and the caulk and the metal. It doesn't help when the chain plate goes through a low spot on the deck that seems to always trap water, and this is of course where these 2 leaking chain plates are located.

So here is the fix. You build a raised area on deck, around the chain plate, that will keep pooled up water away from the deck penetration, and shed off rain water at the same time. How do you accomplish this? By building forms and pouring epoxy into the mold you have created.

To prepare the hull for this process I first removed the shrouds from the 2 chain plates in question. Then I removed the escutcheons and got down to the deck. I dug out all the old caulk, and then began the surface preparation. The bond between the new epoxy and the deck is key, and so to make sure I had a good bonding surface I sanded the deck and the bulkwark with 50 grit sand paper. I removed the paint and made sure to take the sanding well into the gel coat, there needs to be a very clean and rough surface for the epoxy to adhere to. Once the sanding was done, I drilled out the old screw holes for the escutcheon plates, and then vacuumed away all the dust and debris. Once that was done I wiped the entire area down and cleaned it up with acetone.

After clean up was complete, I laid out how I wanted the new bases to be formed, and marked it all out with a permanent marker. I then got out some modelling clay I had gotten a year ago for this expressed purpose, and sliced it into 1/2 inch thick slabs. I also cut off a slab that was about 1/8 of an inch thick, this I would use to create the caulking groove around the chain plate. In the article in Good Old Boat, this entire job was completed on a boat where the rigging was removed and the chain plates were being replaced. On Arden I could not take the time to remove the chain plates, so I made a slight adjustment to how the job was done. I wrapped the chain plate with a thin layer of modeling clay, this would provide the area where caulk would be applied once the epoxied areas had cured. Next I made a form, or mold, out of the modeling clay, the idea here is that the clay is strong enough to hold the epoxy, easy to form and work with, and once the epoxy had cured, it could be removed easy enough.

I made the forms so that the poured epoxy would make a raised area around the chain plate about 3/4 of an inch thick. This would now move the joint where the chain plate penetrated the deck up out of any standing water. I also tapered the form so that there would be a slight angle on the top of the raised area that would help drain water away from the joint. Once the forms were complete, I mixed up the epoxy. I used West Systems epoxy for this job, I have several different brands of epoxy on board, but I wanted the cure time to be fairly quick, and the West stuff was the only epoxy that I had fast curing hardener for. I do not particularly like using West System, it is supposedly the best, but, it has a mixing ratio of 5 to1, that is a real pain in the posterior when you are using measuring cups and doing it all by hand. For work such as this I much prefer MAS or Systems Three, both of which use a 2 to 1 ratio, that is easier to mix and a bit more forgiving if the ratio is a drop or two off. Once the epoxy was mixed up I added in a bit of chopped fiberglass to the mix to give the epoxy some strength, and I also added some Cabosil to it to thicken it up. Until it hardens epoxy is like wet concrete, it needs a thickening agent added to it to keep it from running or slumping. The Cabosil is a silica based powder that thickens epoxy much like flour thickens gravy.

I poured my epoxy concoction into the molds, and made sure to press it down into the holes where the screws used to go into the deck. I used a small screw driver to do this, pushing the epoxy in and making sure any trapped air got out. I then smoothed the epoxy, and waited for it to dry. And waited. And waited a bit more. I am not sure if it was the outside temperature, or if it was because my resin was old, but it took forever for the epoxy to set up and dry. Once it did harden though, the end result looked pretty good. It took a bit of work to get the clay off the chainplate and out of the slot for the caulk, but in the end it was not bad and could have been worse. I mixed up another batch of epoxy and filler to make fillets around the new pieces, this will help move water away from the blocks and blend them into the deck and the bulwarks.

Now it is time for paint and caulk, and the job will be complete, and hopefully, I will have a boat that is a bit drier now than it was before.

I spoke to David Schaake this morning, he and Peg are still here in Ft Lauderdale aboard Journey, looks like if I can get my sails done in time we may head to Bimini together, they are waiting on a few things and the right weather window, and I am doing the same. Our plan is to keep in touch over the next 4 or 5 days and see if we can't both be ready to go at the same time. I sure would like to hit the islands before I sail north, would kind of really cap off this trip.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Moving Boats

It has been a few days since I posted last, so I have a bit of catching up to do.

I am still in Ft Lauderdale, the trip over to Bimini has been postponed for a bit, and I am still waiting on word from Frank that the legal stuff that has brought work on his boat to a halt is over and I can start working on it. I would love to make a bit of money and fatten up my account a bit, but I am to the point that I am starting to get restless and the thought of moving on is gaining ground.

On Sunday I was over at the boat yard for a good part of the day helping Sven, and working on the outboard. Around noon my favorite Ft Lauderdale Marine Patrol cop came by, and I knew the jig was up, I had to move again. As before he was understanding, but a neighbor had complained, I was tied up behind a foreclosed house, yes the neighbors suggested it, but no, I couldn't stay. I was given until "the end of the day" to move, and so I started to access my options. I was about to call it quits and head back out to the ICW, unless Sven or Frank came through and I started to get paid, but barring that I figured I was going to have to head on and resume my trip.

I returned to Arden, and started to prepare to leave, when I was hailed from across the canal by Tom and Brooke, a really nice retired couple that have a house directly across the canal from where I was illegally tied up. Tom had commented on Arden before, like most folks that see her he loved her lines, and he has a great looking boat that is in the restoration process, that is a year or two newer than Arden and built in Tiawan as well. He had seen the cops come by, and suggested that I move across the canal to his bulkhead. I paddled over, we talked for a bit, I was plied with wine and we shared stories, and I met his wife Brooke and their tenant Sterling. Sterling is a Kiwi, and believe it or not, a sailmaker at North Sails. As the afternoon wore on, I asked Sterling if he might be able to put in a reef point in Arden's mainsail, and what he thought of reef points on a working jib. I had to laugh when his response was one of my pet phrases - "no worries mate", and he said he could not only do it, but get it done rather quickly. An hour or two after paddling over, I rowed back to Arden with a line from Tom's rope locker, and then rowed over a line from mine. In just a few minutes we had pulled Arden across the canal, and had her tied up to Tom's bulkhead. Didn't even fire up the engine, we did it all by lines from shore. No worries indeed. (I saw my favorite cop yesterday patroling the water, and I asked him if he had seen where I had moved to, he had, and he was cool with were I am now)

I spent the evening with Tom and crew, I was fed ;lots of wine and chinese food, and we had a terrific evening. Monday morning I was up early, did a bit of cleaning, and then set off with Spook for Sven's boat. I rowed away from Arden quietly as not to disturb my new hosts, and when I was safely out of earshot, cranked up the engine and we were off for the marina.

Monday was a busy day, Sven needed to shift his boat to another slip at the boatyard, and Frank wanted to do the same. So again I was moving boats. We warped Svens boat over to an adjacent dock, he was in the dinghy pulling the stern around, and I was on shore handling lines and making sure she swung easily and hit nothing. It all went well, and we had JuCa tied up in her new berth in no time at all. Then it was time to get Frank's boat moved. Not so easy. Frank was moving across the boatyard and out to a dock on the river, a move of about 100 yards, with no working engine. Sven and I ran the show, again I was hadling lines, and Sven would pull with his dinghy. (Sven has a RIB with a 15 horse engine, quite a powerful combo, but against the wind and the tide it proved to be right at its limits) I ran lines from Franks boat over to the new dock with my dinghy, and then Gabi and I kept the boat under control and centered in the channel with lines as Sven towed her out. It took a lot more work and effort to get Frank moved, but with all of us working together we got Frank moved and tied up shortly. I am sure to anyone watching it was quite a spectacle.

After an afternoon of cleaning dinghies and doing some fiberglass work, Gabi and I set out for the laundromat, and over to Walmart for groceries. Getting normal errands like these done can be a huge logistics issue when you are aboard a boat. Most marinas have a laundry of some sort, but this is a boat yard, so they have no washer or dryer, and we have to use the laundromat. Thankfully Frank and Sabina let Sven and Gabi use their rental car, so we were out and about, getting clothes cleaned and then doing shopping. I replenished my stores, mostly canned and dry goods, but I did break down and get some Mike and Ike's, my one candy weakness. I also got enough oil for the next oil change, and a bunch of cleaning supplies. Back to the laundromat, and as the clothes dried I took the kids to McDonalds (I was craving a burger) and treated Julia and Carlos to a happy meal.

By now it was getting dark, and when we were finished with the errands it was pushing 7pm. I bid everyone goodnight, Frank and Sabina were at Sven's boat having drinks and snacks when we got back, and I motored back to Arden with a dinghy full of supplies. There are times when I wish my dinghy was newer and smaller, it is an older 10 foot Avon, but when I am hauling a bunch of stuff like I was last night I do appreciate the size.

Today is a day for cleaning and maybe a bit of painting, and more organizing getting ready for the return trip up north. I have tossed out alot of things that I have not used so far on the trip, and am trying to lighten the load Arden is carrying. I heard from Roger Wells yesterday and David Schaake, friends I had made in Fernandina and St Augustine, Roger is heading north again, and David and Peg are moored at the entrance of the New River here in Ft Lauderdale. If I can, I am going to try and get down that way and see them before they head out. Until there is more news, I am here in Ft Lauderdale, working on Arden and getting prepared to sail back home, where ever home will be this time.