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.


Jesse said...

Greatly enjoyed the rendition of mutual menopausal moments in the pulpit refit. Had me chuckling as I sit here waiting for the first real blizzard of the season in old New York, and you didn't even mention the heat in the anchor locker in Fort Lauderdale. Yes, you do pay for your onboard pleasures, and yes indeed pleasures they shall be. Wait till you get further south, and the anchorage is idyllic, and the palm trees sway, the coconuts fresh, and then on the way to the next passage too all the work you put in now will make sure that cold bottle of beer is just a reach into the fridge at the end of another day in paradise. Seriously, thank you for the smiles you send this way in your ceaselessly upbeat account of the cruising life, good luck in all you do, and above all...

Smooth sailing!

brian said...

OK. I'll re-read this for all the interesting boat repair stuff after I finish researching the old newspaper obituaries along your path of travel. I think perhaps you died somewhere about two months ago and are actually in boating purgatory. At least that means you have cleared a major hurdle and will get to heaven eventually. The other possibility is . . . well, never mind.

Anonymous said...

Finally, we get to hear from Sue. I know Scott claims that his posts speak for both of them but I think we can all see that Sue's side of the story gets to the unvarnished truth of the situation.

And we have not yet heard about the varnishing.

Glad to know that you are checking projects off the list. But, then the list continues to grow.

Hope you are sailing soon. K

LeahC said...

I'm glad you guys are really getting the boat ready for your big trip. I know it must be super annoying being stuck on land, but in the end I think you'll be much happier. The hubby and I are looking forward to a visit in the Bahamas.

Maybe there is a 1/2 marathon there?!!?!

Andrea said...

We need more Sue postings. Less science and more humor. :)

Scott said...

OK... Let's see. A priest, a rabii, and a parrot walk into a bar. The bartender says, "Say, what is this? Some kind of joke?"

Andrea said...

Is "rabii" the plural of "Rabbi"?