Monday, February 27, 2006

Fade to Black

So, in honor of Chairman Meow, Johnny Cash, and Steven Hawking (obscure) we went with black for the boat bottom. That's the first coat going on and a second coat will follow tomorrow. We are scheduled to launch on Thursday if all goes well with the other projects.


Sunday, February 26, 2006

Bottoms UP!

Hey all...Well, we now have three coats of barrier coat on the old hull. Starting to look fast Ok not fast but less slow maybe. Tomorrow we start with the first of two bottom coats. If things go well


we will be back in the water on Wednesday at the earliest and Friday at the latest. Details yet to be accomplished are...

shove the propellar shaft back into the boat
attach propellar
attach dripless gland (one on boat and one on the captain!)
buy beer
install the sail cover - Mack Pack
re-glass and paint the rudder
re-attach the steering
buy beer
get the two missing lifelines installed
change all engine fluids and filters
buy beer
clean boat
reinstall the backstay...almost forgot that one!
connect the few remaining SSB connections
buy beer
comb Gracie
buy beer buy beer
reattach hose clamps on the forward head plumbing

Seems like a lot but we are not in charge of all these projects. Stem to Stern is doing much of this while we

buy beer

Have I mentioned that we are just a tad tired of living in a parking lot in Ft. L.?


For all you faithfull readers who are also runners you should check out a really cool running blog. .. especially you Chicago runners! It's my daughter's blog and while working on a PhD in physics she is managing to keep up her training for various runs. Good for her!

Here's some pictures of our recent adventures in good old boat maintenance...Stay tuned for dramatic change in hull tomorrow.

The first picture shows the hull down to the bare fiberglass when we washed it every few days to help dry it out. We needed to wash away the salt as it oozed out of the very wet fiberglass.

The next picture (to the right) is when we finally began to apply the barrier coat (looks alot like barium!) and already looks much better.

The 3rd picture (bel0w, below) shows the pink fairing material used to smooth up the jagged areas and fill in any gaps of which there were just a few. Nice job Erik from Stem to Stern!

The fourth picture is of a happy captian who can almost taste the salty sea in his face. The final of 3 (this means 3 days in a row....I mean 3 long days in a row) coats of very important barrier coat.

What will the final version of Enee look like? What color will her bottom be? How fast will she go? Stay tuned!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Another Ft. Lauderdale Update

The project list is getting visibly shorter and shorter!

Lifelines – We picked up our new lifelines yesterday and 6 out of 8 fit! That’s 75% so I give the rigger a C. The four forward ones were from our measurements. For this we took a string and held it at the forward bearing point and then made another mark at the aft bearing point. We did this four times for the four lifelines. So the string had a common forward bearing point and then 4 colored points for the 4 different lengths of the lifelines (yes all 4 are different…don’t ask.). At the riggers we laid the string out along their long bench which has a ruler glued to it. Now myself and the rigger read off the lengths for the various lines. My point is that this is NOT my mistake…this time! I only made marks. The actual measuring came at the rigging shop. As to the four shorter aft lines (center cockpit boat has many lifelines) we just took the existing lines and said make exact copies. One of THOSE fits nowhere! How does that happen? Anyway they’re going to make it right later today.

SSB – After much research and talking with people we’ve decided that the counterpoise does not have to be connected to the seawater directly via the installation of a Dynaplate. That’s good because that is more expense and another hole in the boat. The backstay is coming down today to be split up so as to make the central hunk the antenna. Stem to Stern is doing this.

Forward Head – We knew the y-valve was broken here as previous owner told us about it. As it was we could only flush the toilet overboard. Upon closer inspection I found the whole system looked like it was plumbed by a blind guy with an insane helper! Pipes everywhere (some which just ended and were open) two y-valves…both broken. Nothing for it but to rip apart the whole thing and start over. I wanted ALL the old pipes out as we have had a bad smell up there for some time. Now it is much simpler. Toilet goes right to a y-valve. One position is overboard and the other is to the tank. From the tank there are two paths. One is standard pumpout and the other is pump to deck via a Guzzler hand pump located down by the holding tank. 99% of the time cruisers flush to the sea no matter where they are. They do. BUT you must be able to set your y-valves to flush to tank before you get boarded by the coastguard but that is extremely rare.

Teak- Thanks to Sue the entire toe rail and rubrail now have three coats of Cetol light and two coats of Cetol gloss. Looks great! Having all the teak done will be a fine thing but then we have to be sure to have a regular maintenance schedule for keeping it looking fine. We don’t want to ever have to do all of it at once again.

Hull- Hull is dry enough and sanding and fairing begins in earnest today. As soon as hull is smooth I can start painting…two coats of barrier and two coats of bottom paint.

Engine – Engine is back together with rebuilt water pump. I have to change oil and filters and replace coolant before we go. Stem to Stern is installing the new dripless shaft packing as I couldn’t get the coupler off by myself.

Sail Cover – On the next calm day Sue and I will take off the mainsail and install the Mack Pack that we purchased so many weeks ago! Instructions are pretty clear but we figure it will be an all day job. Requires climbing the mast. Now that we have mast steps I can’t beg off so Sue may be off of bosun’s chair duty! Damn!

So, we could be underway in another week to 10 days. We hope we remember how to sail!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Ft Luderdale...highs and lows

Yes, we're still here but more and more things are beginning to happen. We've finished putting the copper under nearly every square inch of the teak and holly deck. I find out this morning that according to UPS the new radio has been delivered! That means that it is probably sitting in the locked up office here at Pier 17. Arggggggg. Sue finished the port side teak toe rail and rub rail this week and it looks great. We'll get a coat on the starboard side today and put the newly polished stainless back on the port side.

I worked for Stem to Stern thursday and Friday mostly sanding and painting with the exception of yesterday morning when myself and Ahmed installed a rebuilt transmission on a 50 foot, what Art would call, F*** boat! Twin diesels and, as usual, no room to work. The transmission probaly weight 150 pounds. We got it down into the engine room and stuffed it back behind the engine. Now all we have to do is lift it about 6 inches and shove it forward to engage the crankshaft. No way in hell! We roamed the yard picking up odd pieces of 2x4 and metal rods to use as levers. After about 30 minutes of grunting, swearing and pinched fingers we got it to engage. Whew! And I thought this would be an interesting break from sanding and painting!

Ahmed will be on our boat all day Monday putting the engine back together and installing the dripless gland. Lots of other stuff will be happening next week as well. . . Backstay is to come down so as to turn it into an antenna for SSB, rudder should come off (may have to lift boat) to reglass, hull sanding could start late in the week depending on the next set of moisture numbers.
Hey, we may make it to the keys afterall!!!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Laying Copper

Two projects are now proceeding nicely. First of all we have now laid ninety feet of four inch wide copper strap under our deckto form the counterpoise for the SSB radio (see previous post for counterpoise discussion). We think there is room for another ninety feet. That will make about 60 square feet of copper to form our counterpoise. The process went well. The copper strap is easy to work with being thicker than aluminum foil but not so thick that you can’t easily bend it by hand. The picture at the left shows how it is laid in the companionway back to our aft cabin. The hardest part was removing the screws holding the teak and holly decking down to the old parquet. The screws were brass and had been in for awhile. You only get one chance with brass. Once you screw up the Phillips socket…you gotta drill it out! Did that for a number of the screws. So now the copper runs from dead aft under our bed through our aft cabin back and forth a couple of times, back and forth three times in the walkway from the main cabin to our aft cabin and then five or six passes up and down the starboard side of the main cabin. That’s where we ran out of copper. We simply screw the teak and holly flooring back down right through the copper strap if necessary. More strap is on the way.

The two pictures shown here show a nice before and after of the starboard side of the main cabin deck. Looking at the old parquet I can see why the previous owner put down the teak and holly!

So, we shifted gears and got back on the refinishing job. I think that is a job that will always be with us as long as we own this boat. If we always look to do a little bit, though, it should be ok. re-doing all of it at once is a large task though. We’ve sanded the toe rail and rub rail now portside. Tomorrow the first coat of Cetol…as soon as the frost is off the boat.

Have I mentioned that there is a FREEZE warning for Ft. Lauderdale. Sue and I heard on the radio today that the city went around and rounded up homeless people and took them to shelters last night because of the cold. That’s nice and it should be done. I’m just used to hearing those reports when the temps get into the single digits not the forties! I’m not saying Chicago’s homeless are tougher than Florida’s…but they are!

As things tend to go, today we received a book we’ve been waiting for: A gentleman’s Guide to Passages South. I can tell already this is a good book for us although the author seems just a trifle arrogant. The title refers to the old saying that, “Gentleman never sail to weather” - an old saying from the early days of yachting. Of course to get to the Caribbean from Florida you have to sail to weather against the trade winds and also some currents. This is often called the thorny passage. As with all cruising, though, if you are willing to wait for the proper moments and listen carefully to the weather you can make this passage in a number of short hops. As usual these days the question is, “but where will you be during hurricane season”? We’ll see… Anyway I thought it was interesting that the book arrived today as we are beginning in earnest to install our SSB radio because as I read the book I find that the author (Bruce Van Sant) totally assumes that you DO have an SSB radio to retrieve weather information which is crucial to making this passage.

So the boat is getting ready and the crew is getting ready. As tired as we are of Ft. Lauderdale and living in a parking lot this is still our best place to make ready for the next level of adventure.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Progress…real progress!

Yes we've been busy...this long blog is followed by another new one!

Between working for Stem to Stern and making trips to Tampa to visit my dad we’ve been making some progress on our projects while waiting for the hull to dry out but not at a rate that we would like. Now that is beginning to change. I’m working less and things are happening.

First of all the hull IS drying. We have three sets of readings and each is smaller that the former as you’d expect. I’d guess another week or two and we’ll be ready to sand and do the bottom job.

Meanwhile we have finished the refrigerator project. I’ve put an exhaust fan in the door to the cabinet where the compressor lives. By connecting it to the existing fan the two fans come on together. The one on the unit pulls air into the cabinet while the little fan from Radio Shack drives it out. This should help in warmer climes. Refrigerator itself is working fine and is keeping things (beer) plenty cool and not running too much. I mark this project DONE . . . for now.

Upon returning from Tampa last weekend we discovered that we had shipped about 20 -30 gallons of water aboard into the bilge! We’re sitting in a parking lot remember! Somewhere, rainwater is getting into the boat big time. No obvious culprits like hatches or ports which would show a trail of wet if it was them. I squirted the hose into the cockpit which is the biggest and lowest place on the outside the boat but Sue saw no water coming in from that. I tried the same with the mast and mast boot but no water there either. Then I tried the deck area around the flue from the propane cabin heater. STOP!, Sue says. Lots of water was sheeting in from under the deck fitting. Upon closer inspection we could see that this fitting was rotten and not bedded to the deck any longer. A quick trip to West Marine (you should all buy some stock!) and I’m back with a teak winch pad* which is what was used as a spacer between the deck and the little upside down V deal that covers the flue itself. Some 5200 and screws and we are calling this project DONE…until the next big rain.

* When asked, the nice man at West Marine assured me that they had no such item. Later, I showed him where they were. Strangely, they were by the winches.

Now for the biggie…Time to re-bolt the pulpit to the rail! This is where Sue gets to climb into the chain locker. Maybe better in her own words…

Finally we had time to both work on putting the bow pulpit back on. The woodwork and welding was done weeks ago it seems but with Scott working and this and that we didn’t have a full day for reinstallation. Recently we did. The plan was for me to insert the bolts from the inside of the anchor locker up through the holes in the stanchions where Scott would add the lock washer and nut and tighten as I hold onto the 2 foot long screwdriver below. The 2 foot long socket deal didn’t work.

It was a beautiful, sunny, breezy, warm February day in Fort Lauderdale. Great for sailing, as I inserted myself into the anchor locker (an area of about 2 square feet). Scott was on deck with pulpit in position ready with 5200 and lock washers and nuts. Okay the first bolt slipped through easily. I pushed the giant screwdriver with the attached by adhesive tape bolt up. It stayed its course. Yeah. This will be easy. Think again!

From Scott’s perspective it was a relatively straight forward job. After he aligned 3 of the pulpit stanchions and made the 4th fit by drilling new holes, in theory attaching the bolts should be a breeze.

Sue's tools of torture

From my perspective the mission was clear and a system was in place. It even was a successful system for the most part. Tape the phillips headed bolt to the 2 foot long screwdriver with blue masking tape. Insert self and tool into anchor locker. Position flashlight so stanchion holes are visible. Push bolt through designated hole. Hold screwdriver so it doesn’t turn while Scott secures the nut.

Ah, but no one expected the menopausal moment. I begin to feel like I’m trapped inside an anchor locker (oh wait, I am!) The next bolt doesn’t quite match up.

Sue: Scott could you put a bolt through from the top.

Scott: You want me to put a bolt in so I can take it out again? (Now who is having the menopausal moment?)

Sue: So I can see where the hole is.

(As clear as the holes are on the top deck, there is much smudge and crevices on the underside.)
Sue: Ok, I see it. Oh wait, the bolt came off the screwdriver. Shit! Ok, now I have it. Go ahead, tighten it.

Scott: I can’t quite get the nut on. Push it up a little more.

Sue: I’m pushing as hard as I can . It won’t go any further.

Scott: I’ll loosen the other one. Try it now.

Sue: Yeah, that helps. Now it’s going. Do you have it tight yet? (as her knuckles are scrapping against the fiberglass hull gripping the screwdriver).

Scott: Yes, that one is tight. Now do the forward outer.

Sue: (Thinking – forward outer, that must be the one over my head furthest against the hull – as I am looking upside down from below) Okay. (I pull myself out of the anchor locker, tape another bolt to the giant screwdriver and gently ease myself and the tool back through the 2 foot hole.) Okay, now which hole?

I went in and out of the locker 16 times (once for each bolt-4 stanchions with 4 bolts each) plus about a dozen more times when I slid out because I felt like I was suffocating or when I dropped the bolt or when I couldn’t see where the next hole was or when I was cursing so much that I sweated up my glasses or when I bumped my head again on a hose clamp and it really pissed me off or when it got so hot in there (was it the heat of the flashlight or a hot flash?) that I needed to come out for air. Each time I entered the chamber I wrestled with the anchor chain, rubbed against the rough fiberglass walls and could really only see with one eye because even my head was too big to fully fit in the space where the pulpit fittings were. Each time I exited the space I gulped for air as I quickly slid my back over the cushion I placed on the wooden frame and bent my legs in a way that most 54 year old women wouldn’t choose to do, for free anyway.

I like working on the boat. I often learn many things about the boat and myself and my sailing partner. However, I think my menopausal moments during the anchor locker incident brought a new level of understanding to the phrase, 'swear like a sailor'. My emotions were so extreme, something I’m not used to. I was swearing so loud and often that I think most of the other workers in the boatyard were scared away. Thankfully I was hidden in the underbelly and so they couldn’t see me. Although the admiral of the fleet did give Scott a flower to give to me after the whole ordeal. Hmmm…..

So this project is DONE…for EVER!

Meanwhile back in the bilge…The bilge and area under the engine is still dirty with oil from our oil leak which has been fixed by the Stem to Stern guys. While messing with this the other day I noticed that the bilge pump itself was acting up. Running but not pumping. That ain’t good! Also noticed that neither pump nor float switch were even connected to the bottom of the bilge and that REALLY ain’t right! Today I discovered why they weren’t connected. The bottom of the bilge is actually a shelf of the big fresh water tank. Don’t really want to drill holes in that so I made a mounting board out of a chunk of Starboard that we had. Both switch and new working pump are mounted on this board. I’ll then 5200 the starboard to the bottom of the bilge. I took this opportunity to wire the pump into its circuit with quick disconnects. I’ll have a second pump at the ready with these same connectors. This should make it a shorter job to switch out pumps if necessary…like if the sea comes in! Project is stamped nearly done.

Sue’s big discovery

In an effort to freshen up our fresh water tanks, Sue removed the large (about 8” in diameter) inspection plates from the tops of our two water tanks. To her shock and surprise there is stuff in there! Not good stuff either. This would be what my friend Gary would call smoudge. The aft tank was the worst and the smoudge had a rotten egg smell. The sides of the tanks have scaly stuff stuck to them as well. We decided that this boat had shipped sea water into the tanks at some point and was never cleaned out. I wouldn’t have been surprised to find a sting ray swimming around in there! I think this can happen if you bury the port rail which is where the vents are for the tanks. Who knows? The good news is that we have been drinking out of these tanks and other than a little cloudiness in the water we seem to be fine other than some normal forgetfulness. The good news is that we have been drinking out of these tanks and other than a little cloudiness in the water we seem to be fine other than some normal forgetfulness. So, we borrowed a big shop vac (Suc-o-Lux) from our friends at Stem to Stern (Yes it is a good idea to become friends with people who have ALL the marine repair equipment!) and Sue cleaned out that aft tank. Tough job because this tank is a full 3 -1/2 feet deep and Sue has 2 ½ foot short arms! Now both tanks are clean and have had new gaskets put under those inspection plates so this job is DONE…stay tuned!

Yesterday we made measurements for replacing all of our lifelines. We did this by using some nice stiff nylon cord (from guess who!). After threading the cord through the stanchions I put the cord around the forward loop on the pulpit and then Sue marked where the cord met the aft connection point. We used the same piece of cord and just made different colored marks for the different aft connections for our 4 long, forward lifelines. I know, you’re thinking, “Why not just take the old lifelines to the rigger?” No, because these old lines were jerryrigged in a number of ways due to broken stanchions and broken pulpit so this measurement would be better than the lifelines themselves. Now the four little lines for the aft deck are ok as to their length but still need to be replaced so we did take those to the rigger to copy. So, Paul, the rigger is making our new lifelines and we should have them within a week.

The next BIG project is to lay out a counterpoise for our SSB radio. Ah, sure a counterpoise. Here’s how I understand it. If one antenna is good two is better. Our antenna will be our backstay which will have to be split to have insulators installed. Now if the whole boat was metal and connected to the antenna the signal would bounce off of the metal hull and from far away it would be like there were two antennas and their signals would reinforce each other. Any physicists out there will recognize this as Llyod’s mirror from optics. Of course we have a fiberglass boat so we have to lay out a bunch of metal to form this counterpoise. Luckily, our previous owner laid down a teak and holly sole over the original parquet. We can lift that teak and holly and lay down a long, continuous, 6” strip of copper back and forth and thereby form a nice big sheet of metal for the signal to bounce off of. They say you want 100 square feet but we won’t get that much. More like 50 square feet for us but we hope that will do it. It’s not that the SSB won’t work unless you have 100 square feet its just that more area means more range for your radio. This radio business is not a realm of physics with which I am real familiar so I’m excited to learn more about this region of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

A month and chump change

So where are we here? Many things have happened in one month and change yet we’re still living in a parking lot. Hmmmmm. Let’s look at the positives. Scott is gaining some boat repair experience although most of his time lately has been spent sanding the topsides of a 45 foot fishing boat. We think his finger prints have been removed in the process. Enee’s hull is actually drying out. After 10 days most areas of the hull are significantly less moist. This could mean that the bottom will be ready for sealing and painting in a couple of weeks. Sue did the readings this time as Scott was busy at work. The question about how does this little box (moisture reader) really work came up. She put the meter against her hand and sure enough it went off the scale. Of course since we are made of 90% water give or take a few. So is this proof that the meter actually does measure moisture in the hull of a boat. Then the idea of testing other boats occurred. Here are the interesting results. The steel hulled boat was also off the scale and the aluminum boat also off the scale. Does this mean that these impenetrable boats have moisture in them? No! It means that the meter is calibrated to measure moisture on fiberglass boats. When other substances come into play, the meter goes way off.

Now think about this. ( I had to and am still thinking.) These wonderful meters that we use in our everyday lives such as thermometers to take our temperature, barometers to measure the barometric pressure, they don’t ‘know’ about hotness or coldness or highs or lows and such. They only know what the human programmed them to do. Measure some level of something and when the conditions are such the meter reads low, medium, or high. What a concept. Of course the machine doesn’t know there is water in our hull and frankly doesn’t care. Because it can’t care! This was a revelation to Sue.

To reiterate the positives so far, Scott is working and learning and deducting the amount of some of our bill for our boat. Sue is learning about physics (she actually did an experiment on her own) in a meaningful way. Gracie is still alive although she may argue whether or not this is a positive. And it’s usually 70 or 80 degrees during the day and a comfortable 60 or 50 degrees at night.

Other positives:

We’ve met up with several friends and family while staying in Ft. L. including recently with Sue’s cousins Mike and Sharon who drove up from the Keys for dinner. What fun to get together, catch up with family, and find out about living in the Keys and fishing tips as well. The Keys will be our next stop once we get back in the water.

The brakes went out on the Mazda that we drove down from Chicago, but Art helped us get them fixed without going to a Car X or Midas or other expensive shop. Friday morning Sue got two used tires to put on because Lammert (the brake fixer) discovered a split in one and both are very worn. Lammert suggested a tire place near by and sure enough they replaced our tires for only $50 bucks.

The guy who lives near the boat yard and walks up and down inspecting everything that’s going on (we call him the admiral since he is always inspecting the fleet) said hello to Sue the other morning as usual and then talked about his beautiful flowers blooming in his yard and gave her one for all the hard work she was doing on the boat. Apparently he has seen Sue sanding, scrubbing, carrying buckets of bilge water down the ladder, etc.

So you see there are many good things that are happening as we sit here ‘on the hard.’ And what about the negatives, you ask? Well of course, the down side is that we aren’t sailing. We’re not even floating. But that time will come and we still have several projects to complete before then anyway.