Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Moving Liquids

The rebuilding of the plumbing system has officially begun. No small task, but at least all of the jobs involved are fairly straightforward and manageable without a crew of seven hearty adults.

Last week I managed to make some good progress on the rebuild of the waste system. When we got the boat, it was plumbed with the toilet connected to the holding tank and an overboard discharge. Totally illegal, and also not practical. The new system, in addition to having more options for, well, "waste-management" will have a new toilet that actually works and hose that was meant for sanitation systems (odor-resistant...very important).

Step One: Rip Out the Old Sh*%
This is a disgusting job now matter how careful you are. The holding tank was partially filled with seawater and some of that awful blue holding tank deodorizer (which doesn't work, by the way). The hoses were caked with what I can only assume was waste that didn't make it all the way to the tank, and the toilet was just plain nasty. I saved the toilet in case anyone wants it. Errr.

Here is a look at the old tank and hose setup before I started destroying things and swearing at inanimate objects:

With the tank removed from underneath the port settee, here is what we were left with. Notice the lovely (completely seized) seacock and the nasty waste hoses.Getting the through hull and seacock out of the boat was an adventure of two full days. I finally ended up grinding the flange off the outside and cutting the rest apart to get the thing out. Solid bronze, seized up with corrosion, and bonded to the hull? Bring in the power tools!

I did manage to get the beast out of there. I am keeping it on the workbench to remind me why I am not replacing any seacocks with bronze. This picture shows the hole left after the seacock came out, including the remnants of the old plywood backing plate.

Step Two: Install the New Stuff
With the seacock and the hoses out, it was time to get the hull ready for the new fittings. The flange for the new Marelon seacock was wider than the old bronze fitting, so the backing plate had to be larger. I started by cutting the hole in the hull liner to 6.5 inches in diameter and cleaning up the inside of the hull to get ready for a new backing plate, which I made out of marine plywood sealed with epoxy.

This image shows the cutout waiting for the backing block.
And this image shows the backing block in place (notice that I also painted out the locker with white Bilge Coat paint):

Since I am putting flush-mount through hulls in (why not?), I had to prepare the outer hull for the recessed flanges. This is not easy without some sort of magic tool that apparently exists but no one has.

Several hours with a Dremel grinder got me an acceptable result:

With the backing block shaped to fit the inside of the hull (several passes on the belt sander) and epoxied in place, it was time to start putting the pieces together.

First step, get the through hull fitting in place, along with the recessed bolts that will hold the seacock in place. You can see that my work on the cutout is less than perfect, but sealed well with the 3M product of choice and fared in when we get ready to paint, and this will be just fine, he says.

And here is the view from the inside. Very nice. No corrosion potential, easy to maintain, and unlikely to seize in place. I aligned the handle to run athwartships just so it would be easier to get to and open or close. The hoses will run to either side of the seacock.

This is a look at the small 3/4" seacock for the raw water intake on the head. This one isn't hidden in a locker so I made the backing block out of a piece of teak I had left over from a job on the old boat.

The toilet is bolted in and ready for the hose installation. We will be rebuilding the cabinetry in the head to actually have some storage. More on that soon.

And that's where we stand for now. I have the hose for the remainder of the install work, and the holding tank has been sanitized and cleaned. Before I reinstall the holding tank and strap it in place, I need to run a few hoses and wires for the freshwater system and some other things, but once I do that, we can button this project up and move on!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Candy Store

It's an exciting week for me. With a full workday planned at The Boat Yard on Friday, I need to pick up some supplies. And that means I get to go to Fisheries Supply. How much do I love this place? Two floors of everything you could ever want for a boat. All the coolest sailing gear, hardware, electronics, and just all around boating stuff there is. If you are a boat nerd, Fisheries is your Candy Store. One expensive candy store. It's a stroke of luck that there isn't much room on the old Visa card these days...

But even better than the store is the Fisheries Supply Catalog. For those of you who aren't in Seattle and can't make it to the retail store, the catalog is a pretty good substitute. Everything about both the store and the catalog puts Worst Marine, Defender, and the rest to shame. Do yourself a favor and order up a copy. Pretty soon you'll be doing projects on your boat just so you can order stuff. I feel like Navin R. Johnson every time the new catalog arrives on the step (it's too big to fit in the mailbox): "The new phonebooks are here! The new phonebooks are here!"

But I'm getting off track here...and now I have the urge to go order The Jerk on pay-per-view.

Anyway, I just placed a will-call order for some thru-hulls, seacocks, and other plumbing parts to get the sanitation system back in place. We're going from bronze to Marelon thru-hulls (I've not found a single good reason to keep metal thru-hulls. Anyone?) and running the pipe in a little more logical manner. We're also redesigning the system to have a pump overboard or pump out option. We call it the Northwest Package: in Puget Sound you can't even spit overboard anymore, but cross the imaginary line in the middle of the Straits of Juan de Fuca into Canada and shit directly into the ocean. It's a strange world we live in. On one side of that purple dotted line, you have to have your overboard discharge locked closed. On the other? Flush away.

The plan is pretty simple, and so far I've rounded up all of the parts except the manual pump for the overboard discharge. No one seems to have the one we need in stock, so I'll just have to leave room for it in the layout and keep searching. Which reminds me:

This weekend I also need to go see Previous Boat Owner, who called last week to remind me that he still has an outboard engine and "some other stuff that goes with the boat" at his house in Port Townsend. Seems that so long as I am in Port Townsend it would be a shame not to browse through the boatyard. The consignment shop there is one of my favorite haunts, and the shops up there actually carry the stuff people need for their boats, not just drink cozies and "Life's Good" t-shirts (I'm looking at you, Worst Marine). Who knows what I'll find when I'm there! Something I have to have, no doubt.

I will take some award-winning pictures of the progress this weekend. I'm sure this will be the time nothing at all goes wrong with a boat project. Right?

Monday, October 5, 2009


I have never been a mechanical sorta guy. I wasn't into cars when I was little, and engines never interested me. So when I first owned a boat in my past life, the powerplant was just a mysterious gray monster that lived under the companionway stairs. It started and it ran, and the surveyor said it was in good shape, so I was happy.

And then on a early trip, the kind little Yanmar 2GM caught a case of engine runaway and almost took the boat to the bottom of the Puget Sound with it. Scary stuff, that. I got lucky, and the runaway stopped itself after a few minutes and before the engine completely seized, but it was never the same after that. Or maybe it was that I was never the same again. Something like that.

From that day on I was always pretty sure I could hear the engine sputtering or laboring. I always had a little tick of nerves that she was going to go south on me. She never did, and was still running great when we sold her years later, but the damage had been done to my psyche.

So here we are with our new-old boat, getting ready to find a way to get a new engine in there, and I have admit that I'm pretty damn excited about it. The idea of starting completely fresh is making me into a bit of a mechanical geek: reading manuals, learning about reduction gears, calculating torque ratios, sketching installation plans. Even the simple idea of a perfectly clean and organized engine space is motivating enough to make me want to rip the old Yanmar out and get started.

And I think we might have settled on our engine:

Isn't she adorable? This is the Betamarine 14. A 13.5 horsepower 2-cylinder marinized Kubota engine. I spoke with the local dealer this morning about our project and I have to say I have a lot of confidence in them. The engine would come with mounts to match the current installation, all wiring, the control, and all the support I need from the yard. They will customize it with specific options for our needs (bigger alternator, hot water heater hook ups, etc) and from actual order to a pallet in our garage is one week.

The ONLY problem is that the base cost is 6 full Boat Units. For the price of this engine we could get:
  • 500 cases of Red Hook ESB
  • 3,000 nonfat lattes at Jason's Java
  • 3 full sets of new sails
  • 2 rebuilt Yanmar 2GM engines
  • 1 used Cape Dory 25
  • 2 used Santana 22s
  • 1/2 of a BMW F800GS
  • Out of debt.
But nothing beats a reliable, powerful, easy to maintain diesel engine when you are cruising in the Northwest, where 5 knot surface currents are not uncommon and the wind is ALWAYS on the nose when you are trying to push through Deception Pass.

So now we're actively entering into the fundraising portion of this program. I might have to start drinking cheap beer again to make this one work...


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Things That Are Driving Me Crazy

In lieu of an actual, complete update on our progress, I thought I'd post a list of some of the things about this boat that are driving me completely mad. In no particular order:
  1. The factory wiring. I can't go back in time to watch them build our little boat, but it is becoming apparent that they did a lot of the work before the boat was put together. The wiring for the cabin lights for example, was obviously run along the top of the cabin liner BEFORE it was put in the boat and BEFORE the top half of the hull was put on. The result? The wires are trapped between two layers of fiberglass, with no way to get them out without cutting the hell out of the boat. Awesome? Or super-fantastic? You decide. On top of that, the "electrician" who wired our boat used duct tape to bundle the wires and to hold them in place behind fixtures. So that's great. The result is that any wires I can't pull through are just being cut back to the surface and left there. I have to figure out how to run new wires in a better fashion.
  2. The bonding system. A random combination of solid wire and twisted copper wire zig zagging around the hull, connecting every piece of metal to be found? That's super fun! Getting it out? Next to impossible.
  3. Cheap refit jobs. The previous owner was a sweet old guy, but from what I can tell, he didn't know a damn thing about boats. There are more mild steel screws and weird clamps and hooks on this boat than I can count. And I keep finding more everywhere I look. Like the little cup hook on the INSIDE of the starboard locker, which I found today by dragging my wrist across its nice, sharp tip. What the hell is that doing in there?
  4. The Yanmar. The Yanmar Santa hasn't delivered a new engine yet, but no matter, because the old beast is still sitting there, mocking me. Today I started imagining how to get it out of the there, and I don't think I can do it. I don't see how it will fit through the opening it is supposed to fit through. Again, I have a strong suspicion that they installed that little sucker BEFORE they put the boat together. I see some serious destruction of the cabin in our future.
  5. Propane parts. Why are these so hard to find? And why does no one know anything about where to find parts? And why do they sell propane lockers with hose seals that hoses don't fit through? And why don't they make a 90 degree 3/8" flare to 3/8 female fitting? And why is it that even though they don't recommend solid copper tubing for use on boats, all of the books explaining onboard propane systems show them made with solid copper?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Galley Progress

Here are some photos of the just-about-completed galley. First, the section roughed in with the fiddle rails in place and the propane burner installed:

Next, a little detail photo showing the drawer system and storage bin:

And finally, my Dad's latest creation. The storage system that completes the look. The top is white Formica and the wood is marine-grade birch plywood with mahogany for the details and fiddles. Once we stain the plywood and put the cabinet hardware on, it will match the rest of the interior wood (all of which is getting stripped and refinished, so matching should be pretty easy:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Just a Quick Update

The Yanmar Santa hasn't magically delivered and installed a new engine yet (what gives, Santa?), so we are moving ahead with other projects. Actually, I should say that Dad is moving ahead with other projects, because the Admiral and I have been traveling so much this summer that we haven't been able to devote as much time to the boat as we should.

But I found a few minutes to get over to the Boat Yard this week to check things out and get a little bit of work done. I arrived to find that the empty white space where there was once a badly designed galley has already gone from this:

To this:
It really is amazing! Dad has outdone himself here. You can see that the propane hose is run, and the power is also roughed in for the electronic igniter on the stove, which is a single burner built-in model. Here are a couple other shots of the galley construction.

This shows the drawer detail:

Check out all the added storage! Before there was almost no storage to be found, but with Dad's design we have two good sized drawers and a lot of dry storage for food and the like.

This next picture shows the view from forward:

We have sacrificed the port-side single berth in favor of a more functional galley, and in the process gained two huge storage spaces. A swing down cupboard door will give us access to the space you see here, and access to the space beneath that will be from the side through another swing down door.

Giving up the berth on that side of the boat was a hard choice because we didn't want to make too many big changes to the boat's layout. She is a classic, after all. But we still have the starboard side settee as a good sea berth and the four-foot wide settee we are left with on the port side will be a great spot to sit and read, play games, and eat. The increased galley space and storage make it all worth it.

Next up? It's time to start wiring. We know where the panels are going to go, but need to sit down and really plan out the AC system and the rest of the DC wiring. All of the old fixtures are coming out and all of the old wire is going in the trash with them.

Given my experience with our last boat's wiring scheme, I really want to take the time to do this part of the refit correctly. But that ain't gonna be cheap.

Also, we're still waiting for that Yanmar to magically appear.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Some Photos to Back Up the Words

Here are some quick photos that can serve as proof of Hayden's narrative claims of actual progress on the boat.

Tearing Out the V-Berth
BEFORE Hayden's Epic Adventure: AFTER (Not pictured, Hayden's Chemical High):
Looks pretty good, eh? And for the record, those splotches that remain are original (messy resin work by the boat builders.) That ain't coming off.

The Galley
BEFORE Destruction:

AFTER destruction (but clearly BEFORE cleaning):
Dad is on the job of designing the new space, and has been green-lighted to have at it. Can't wait to see how it comes together!

A Proper Propane Place
Aft Lazarette (future propane locker) BEFORE:

Aft Lazarette DURING (patched, sanded, cleaned, and painted):

Aft Lazarette Becoming Closer to Useful (I know those slats don't look straight in the photo, but trust me, they are):

Aft Lazarette Acting Like a Proper Propane Locker:

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The V-Berth, Power Tools and Nasty Habits

Since Cap'n Ron, given this post's title, is likely to misunderstand me... let me explain.

First, you should know that apart from harvesting the garden and the sea for our daily edibles, my primary job this week has been to transform the v-berth into a stripped-down, gleaming cave awaiting its extreme make-over. You should also know that the v-berth as we inherited it was a filthy, toxic mess! Even without the water tank, Perry Como and Jack Daniels, the v-berth offered up such delectables as sawdust, mold, insect carcasses and generally unidentifiable odors. All that and no air circulation? Perfect!

Since I managed to escape my v-berth time last week by declaring that the record heat wave made it positively dangerous to trap myself there, and since Greg had already made the Home Depot trip to buy me my very own dainty Ryobi mini-drill, I knew I had no choice but to dive in.

I dismantled the decorative wooden slats lining the hull, and I even managed to label each one for ease of reconstruction later. P = port. S = starboard. And the slats are numbered from 1 to 15. The thing is, I discovered that there's one more slat above what I called 1. Oops. I guess we start counting from zero from now on. Slats are now successfully off loaded and bundled in the garage... sanding and refinishing to come.

The only truly disturbing part of this slat-removal process was what I discovered later in the evening as I felt the uncontrollable urge to pick my nose (see? that's the "nasty habits" part). Last month, when we were in the toxic choke of Nairobi traffic, I experienced the same phenomenon: the nagging, itchy black crust that my mucus membranes had become. I'm sure my lungs are fine, though. Right?

Anyway, the interior of the v-berth has been vacuumed and scrubbed and scrubbed again... and is now as gleaming as it's going to get. Not as blemish-free as it was on its virgin cruise, but definitely better than anything it's been in recent decades. If I do say so myself.

It's not as good as installing a propane locker, I realize. But we all work with our own skill sets.
For what it's worth, I can also throw together a fantastic crab salad.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Perry Como, Jack Daniels, and Power Tools

Power Tools
One of the "problems" with well-built boats is that they aren't meant to be taken apart. The upside is that they probably won't break up and sink in a storm at sea. The downside is that when you do want to remove something, the job can be rather epic in scope.

If the previous owner of said old boat was neglectful (or worse, a little kooky) any repair or removal job will climb the scales in difficulty.

Take the thru-hulls and seacocks on our lovely old boat. This week I started getting ready for our little galley remodel by stripping down the port side of the cabin interior. I removed the holding tank (everyone's favorite this case made even better by the fact that the only thing the previous owner apparently put in the tank was that blue chemical concoction that is supposed to make things smell "better"), I removed some of the wood, and pulled some of the wire and hoses that ran through the locker. So then I was left with this:

That seacock is looking pretty good, no? Big surprise that it was permanently corroded in the closed position. The hose was completely clogged and the handle had obviously not been exercised in a decade. No matter, all of the seacocks and thru-hulls are being replaced anyway.

So now I just had to pull the thing out. Once I confirmed that the flange wasn't bolted to anything, I grabbed the trusty pipe wrench and gave it a few (million) tugs. I pounded on it with the hammer. I torqued it. I hammered it more. Nothing.

It's then that I notice the seacock is not only threaded onto the thru-hull like normal, it is EPOXIED to the hull. Epoxy. Not sealant. Not glue. Epoxy. Are you kidding me with this?

There is no way it is coming out. Ideas anyone?

Calling Dennis confirmed my idea: figure out how to cut the damn thing out of there.

Bring in the 4" angle grinder! I decided to grind the flange off the outside of the thru-hull in hopes that I could pull the whole apparatus through the inside of the boat.

(insert grinding sound and flying metal shavings here)

No dice.

Bring in the Sawzall. I love the Sawzall, if only because that is really what it is called. I cut through the inside of the thru-hull until it was in quarters, pried it out with a screwdriver, and there you have it: after 5 hours of heavy labor, we have removed ONE of the thru-hulls from the boat.

At least now I know what I'm up against. I hope to pull the rest of them this week and order the Maleron replacements soon...This is why you don't want to pay boat yard prices for labor, by the way. 5 hours at $45 an hour? Plus one saw blade and one grinding disc? Plus one dust mask? It adds up. All this job cost me was a little bit of skin (though the next job would cost me a toenail...)

The Cape Dory Time Capsule
I knew that when Hayden got here she would want to do some work on the interior wood work, so I decided to take a break from my destruction of the underwater metals and do some prep for her. I pulled the bunk top boards out of the v-berth, exposing the water tank and its plumbing. Then I figure, what the hell? We have to clean and inspect it anyway, let's take it out and do it on the ground!

Piece of cake. Easiest job yet. The tank lifts out (note to self, build straps to hold the tank in place when we put it back). I set in on the driveway and rinse it out.

This is when the tank decides to attack me. As it filled with water, it rolled onto one of its sides right onto my flip-flop protected big toe. Instant purple toenail. Awesome. The good news is I am only supposed to run a HALF marathon this weekend, not a full 26.2. Crap.

Anyway, back to the boat. I have no doubt that the bunk top boards have not been removed since the boat was built. So the mess underneath them is pretty epic. Dust, dirt, grime, mold, pennies, paper clips. Perry Como and Jack Daniels.

Yep. There under the water tank was a mint condition Perry Como 8-Track tape and an unopened airline-sized bottle of Jack Daniels. Jackpot. I can't help but imagine the tee-totalling former owner of the boat sneaking mini-liquor bottles onboard when his wife isn't looking, getting a good buzz on and grooving to some Perry Como. Sweet.

Next Up
As I post this I am heading back out into the heat (record heat here in Seattle this week, with temps climbing above 100 degrees for the first time in history) to get back to work on those thru-hulls. First the head has to come out. Which, after the holding tank, is everyone's favorite job.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Let's Get Something Done

Your heroes have been on something of an extended vacation that definitely did not include sailing or sailing related activities (unless you consider taking pictures of the dhows in Lamu a sailing-related activity...
Or unless you consider the kids swarming all over the inflatable kayak at the lake a sailing-related activity...
But now we're planning to be home for a week or so before heading out for another round of land-locked vacationing, so we want to get some work done on The Project while we can. Since it doesn't look like the Yanmar Fairy is going to deliver a new 2-cylinder diesel engine any time soon, we're thinking of starting with two pretty major upgrade projects: electrical and propane.

The propane system will be a simple one:
  • New propane stove in the galley (final selection not yet made, but we're leaning toward a single-burner drop in model after debating the merits of a double-burner gimbaled version)
  • Propane fireplace in the cabin (in the nook where the standard bookshelves were)
  • New propane locker and 1-gallon tank in the aft lazarette (we're getting a pre-built model with the solenoid and everything already done
  • Gas sniffer and control panel
The electrical system will be a little more complex since we are adding an AC circuit and battery charger where there wasn't one before, but for now we need to get the new panels so that we can start wiring things like the propane switch and the fireplace blower.

At the same time we will start pulling all of the interior wood and refinishing it in the garage before reinstalling it.

And scouring Craigslist for a new engine. Anyone have a good lead on a new Yanmar?

So that's where we'll be next week. Updates to come.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Wasps, Brothers, and Gas

My older and decidedly less attractive brother is in town from New Zealand for a few days on his way to a meeting of important academic people (contradiction in terms, I know). As Hayden and I are busily preparing to fly off to Kenya for a few weeks (see our infantile blog on the trip here: we don't really have much time to get anything done on the boat until later this summer.

Still, since Older Brother is only on the right side of the planet 3 or 4 times a year, I thought it might be important to at least lay eyes on him. So I saddled up the motorcycle and went over to the boat yard for the day.

The newly remodeled Hood Canal Bridge is spiffy. There are actual shoulders now (which means my running routes while visiting the boat yard have expanded considerably) and the lanes are actually straight. Nice work there.

The boat is right where we left it, and the stairway Dad built is doing its job nicely.

Little known fact: the lower stairs are removable to make it easier to get in and out of the garage. Nice touch. Sheesh.

The wasps are back. I participated in some chemical warfare, but this is clearly not a short-term battle. They love the dorade vent and a few casualties ain't going to stop them. There will be some injuries on our side before this war is decided, I'm pretty sure.

I did some measuring and estimating today, and I think the propane/electrical system is the first project to tackle. We plan to put a propane locker in the lazarette aft of the cockpit and run hose to the yet-to-be-acquired propane fireplace and 2 burner stove.

I think we can wait until we get back from Africa to make any purchases for this project, but it's good to know what to start working on.

More when we get back.

Make sure to follow us on our Africa adventure!


Monday, June 8, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

Once upon a time there was this boat. It was a well-found boat with nice lines and a seaworthy shape. She was solidly built and had a lot of potential.

Along came her new owners. They were an ambitious young couple with dreams of long summer nights at anchor in the San Juan islands and relaxing evenings sailing on the lake near their house.

But the ambitious young owners needed to get the boat back into sailing condition, and she was in desperate need of a remodel.

The ambitious young owners looked around and waited for a reality-based television crew from "Pimp My Boat" to show up, but that never happened. So they were faced with the prospect of refitting their princess on their own, with their own labor and their own hard-earned dollars.


With so much to do, where to start? What is the first project our heroes should undertake? The most satisfying jobs are best saved for last. Painting, staining, and sanding should be reserved for the months AFTER the mechanical destruction takes place. Our heroes needed a project that would be satisfying and reasonable. Something that would require a commitment and a plan, but that would yield tangible results in a short time span. It also needed to be affordable, as the boat coffers have not yet been magically filled by the Boat Dollar Fairies..

Electrical. That seems reasonable. Add some batteries, run some wire...

Propane. Sure. Build the system, buy the new appliances...

Carpentry. Before we know where to run the wire and hose, maybe we should make sure the galley is configured how we like it?

Where to start? Help free our heroes from their impasse!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

My Dad Doesn't Mess Around

When it comes to designing and building stuff, Dad is the guy to call. After at least 5 minutes of figuring in his head and dictating a materials list, he managed to create this to replace the rickety ladders we were using to get on and off the boat:

My first thought is "Thanks Dad!" but then I think, "Hey, that's a pretty permanent structure you got there. You don't have a lot of faith in the 'short timeline' version of this refit project, do you?"

Still...WAY better than defying death on ladders. This will make driveway sailing with Pabst Blue Ribbon a far easier chore.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

To Do: Everything

So far we have:
  1. Purchased the boat. Check.
  2. Moved the boat. Check.
  3. Emptied the boat of the previous owner's crap. Check.
The truth is, I'm not much of a list maker. And when I do make lists I'm not great at sticking to them, which makes grocery shopping an adventure and large projects a bit of a Charlie Foxtrot situation.

That fact is going to make getting started on this boat refit a serious challenge.

Last weekend, while we chemically fought the wasp invasion, I started cataloging the various projects that were coming our way.
  • New Galley Design. We're planning to replace the existing alcohol stove with a gimbled propane version, which will require extending the countertop on the port side, and which will lead to...
  • New Port Side Settee. The existing settee/single berth will get resized into a generous single seat to accommodate the remodeled galley, which will mean...
  • New Dining Table. The existing table will need to be resized and redesigned to fit the new galley and seating arrangement.
  • Propane System. There isn't one now. But there will be, in part to run a new propane heater.
  • Fresh Water System. The existing hand pump will be supplemented with a pressure pump, accumulation tank, and water heater. A hot water shower in the cockpit is on the "maybe" list.
  • New Electrical System. What is there is a joke. A couple of auto batteries and some lamp wire. The plan is to rip the whole damn thing out and start from scratch. AC shorepower, charger, batteries, wiring, panels, LED lighting all around. This is going to be the second biggest job.
  • New through-hulls and hoses. Not a small job. So far I don't see any reason to not go to Marelon for these. Why have underwater metal if you don't need it?
  • New prop.
  • New cutlass bearing.
  • New dripless shaft seal.
  • Rigging? Furler?
  • Engine? What the hell to do about the engine? Replacing it would be ideal, but pricey. It does run...maybe we just clean it up and replace it in a couple of seasons? I'd rather do the whole thing now while we have it out of the water and are doing all the plumbing and wiring projects anyway...Anyone have a nice Yanmar 2GM they want to donate?
What we need to do is find something small to add to this list so we can get it done and check it off. Success. So let's add this:
  • Kill wasp nest. CHECK.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

On Wasp Queens, 1970s Pharmaceuticals and Structural Moss

Hayden here...

I didn’t learn much about boating yesterday, despite spending several hours in and on an actual boat. I guess you could say that I’m far enough along in Cape Dory 101 to follow simple instructions like “put the FENDERS in the LAZARETTE,” but the mechanical and nautical terms still often escape me. Further, I’m simply not genetically programmed to be passionate about “torque.” But I’m trying.

Here’s how I earned my keep:

1. I successfully identified our new boat as a condominium development for the area’s wasp population. Not WASPs, mind you—those I understand. I’m talking about the insects. They love our boat, and their queen established herself in one of the STARBOARD (we’re nautical now, baby) storage areas. Thanks to a spray that apparently short-circuits wasp brainstems, I think we’ve rid ourselves of that particular queen and her colony.

2. I also rid the interior of a collection of cobwebs and detritus by commandeering a rag and a bucket full of boat soap from the V-BERTH to the GALLEY. Among the treasures I found in my cleansing pursuits? A container of mysterious white capsules, each with the imprint P42. These are clearly not Tylenol, but I fear that we’ll know neither the original prescription nor the current street value of said 1970s pharmaceuticals, since the whole batch wound up in one of the bags destined for Archie’s next dump-run.

3. In the process of unburdening the LIFE LINE of the eyesore that was its safety netting, I encountered organic material that appeared to be more structurally valuable to the boat than the mottled and decomposing epoxy that the manual claims keeps the whole thing afloat. GVB’s subsequent pressure-washing of the DECK (does it still count as “swabbing” when the mechanical advantage is so overwhelming??) revealed that the moss and decay had made its stand even in areas invisible to the naked eye… Now that it’s all washed away, I hope the HULL is intact when we make it back for our next visit!

A side note: In boat renovation, ladders are great, but stairs are better. The materials list for the spiral staircase has been generated, and the stairs themselves will probably miraculously appear by summer.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Step Two: Get Her Home.

Here's where she is now. Not a bad spot. She even has a view of the water she will sail in someday.

Getting her there was something of an adventure. Come along...I used my year's allotment of F-Bombs on this one.

Buying a boat is one thing. Write a few checks, sign some paperwork. Getting that boat from the marina slip it has been sitting in for five years to a driveway 30 miles away is another issue.

I'll just go ahead and start with the obvious thesis here: a lot of things have to go right to get a boat hauled, onto a truck, and onto the jackstands as planned. And because we are talking about something related to boats, very little ever goes as planned. Also, because we are talking about something related to boats, the checkbook was going to get a serious workout.

The first challenge: finding a day to do this job. The nameless new/old boat was sitting in the marina in Port Townsend. We do have jobs, it turns out, and kids, and pesky things like that. Finding a time we were both available proved pretty much impossible. And in fact, with the closure of the Hood Canal Bridge looming it came down to one day that would even remotely work. So I started calling...

The second challenge: getting the Port of Port Townsend to put me on their calendar for a haul out. Having only one open day didn't exactly give us a lot of flexibility, but with a little bit of begging and a "promise" that we would be able to haul the boat directly onto a truck instead of taking up time and space in the boatyard, I got them to bump someone else so we could get her out of the water. Now about that promised truck.

As far as I could tell, there are three companies that transport sailboats in the Puget Sound area. The first number I called connected me to a guy named Terry or Kerry or something like that. If you want him to move your boat, I can give you his number, and he's "pretty sure" he can move your boat just fine. He's got a pretty big truck and a trailer that he's hauled some big boats on before. Just don't ask him if he's insured. He'll hang up on you. True story.

The second number I called connected me to an actual business. But by the time they asked the right people the right questions, it turned out that they couldn't get a truck to Port Townsend that day. Uh oh. One more shot.

Associated Boat Transport, and their trusty owner Jack came to the rescue. He already had a truck on the Olympic Peninsula that day anyway, and they could pick us up on their "way home." Cool by me. Jack even offered to sell me some jackstands, and 150% of retail cost. So nice of him. More on Jack and his jackstands later. I took his offer tentatively, though, and told him I would try to find my own stands in the meantime. No luck on that. I called every boat yard I could find. No one would sell me stands.

The last variable (I thought) was getting a crane to pull the mast. Does it seem odd to anyone else that the Port of Port Townsend doesn't have their own boomtruck or crane? I mean, even the Port of Everett has their own crane. You would think a boatyard the size of Port Townsend would have such a thing. Nope. I had to call a guy named Shannon, who knew a guy who knew a guy who had a boomtruck.

Outgoing Message on Shannon's phone: Hi it's Shannon. I'm out of town until the first of June. If you need help with a crane, you should call Joe inaudible last name at 360-blah blah blah static static.

Awesome. I have the haulout scheduled, a truck coming, and getting the mast out of the f-ing boat was going to be the thing that derailed me? F-word. Another half hour of calling around and I finally got the name and number of that guy that someone knew who had a boom truck. 10 a.m. on the do-or-die day? Schedule it.

Sweet. Now nothing could go wrong.

Except the tide tables. For no apparent reason, I decided to check the tides for the day of the haulout. Minus 2.8 feet? When I see this I remember that the boat is moored in the cheapest section of the marina, between the outside of the float and the breakwater. At low tide, it is trapped in. Even at mean tide, it looked like a pretty serious adventure to get out of there.

I call the marina office.

"Hey, I have a mast pull and a haul out scheduled for Monday, but the low tide will make it so I can't move the boat on that day. Is it ok if I move it to the other side of the dock for the night?"

"No. That's what you get for mooring your boat in the limited access space."

"Gee. Thanks. You're very helpful and kind."

"If you want to move it to a different spot you have to pay transient moorage for the night."

"I just though since I was already paying to use the work float to pull the mast, you might just let me slip over there 12 hours early. No one will be using that space overnight."


"Hey thanks!"

I know better. The lesson I re-learned here is that you can't do a damn thing over the phone or on the web.

Hayden and I drove up to the marina the night before the haul out and walked into the port office. Could we move the boat tonight and leave it at the work float overnight? Sure? No problem? Don't worry about paying? Wow. Maybe you should work the phones.

So we started up the engine (yep, it runs!) and drove her around the marina. Thunka thunka thunka thunka. Nothing quite like a 30 year old single-cylinder Yanmar diesel to rattle the fillings out of your teeth. And there we left the boat, waiting for the adventure to begin.

Hayden had to work and miss the festivities the next day, so I conned Skipper Krumm into joining me on the chaos. If anyone loves tinkering with sailboats more than Krumm, I've never met them. He's a good guy to have around if you need help with anything boat related. Hey Dennis, want to spend a couple of hours (all day) helping me haul the boat out of the water? Sucker. (Seriously though, Thanks Dennis!)

We had all morning to get the mast ready to be lifted off the boat. No problem. I'd done this twice on the old O'Day with no problems. Take off the boom, undo the standing rigging, and lift her right up. That's Krumm there on the bow monkeying with a turnbuckle or something.

Problems. The bolts at the gooseneck of the boom are 30 year old stainless steel threaded into aluminum. So those aren't going anywhere. The flange on the gooseneck also kept us from just folding the boom up against the mast for the hoist, to be dealt with later. Nope. We had to get that damn thing off. No dice. Short of drilling out the bolts (which we didn't have the tools to do) it wasn't coming off. So we had to lift the mast with the boom attached and swinging around. Good times.

Boom truck arrives. We attach the mast, get some tension on the cable, and undo the turnbuckles. These actually came undone! Wow. Ok. LIFT!

Nothing. The damn crane actually started lifting the whole boat up out of the water by the mast. If anyone has any question about the reinforcement for the mast step in the Cape Dory 27, I can attest to its strength. Holy crap. So let's review. The mast is complete detached from the boat. It is just sitting on the mast step, and it isn't moving at all. 30 years of corrosion have essentially welded the mast to the mast step. We tried rocking the mast, pulling it forward, pulling it backwards, shaking it, pounding the living shit out of it with a piece of 4x4 lumber. Nothing. Insert long stream of F-bombs here. If we can't get the mast down, we can't move the boat. If we can't move the boat, we have to pay to leave it in the yard in Port Townsend until June, when the Hood Canal Bridge opens again.

Dennis leaves to let me swear to myself, ostensibly in search of some magic tool that will free the mast. While he's gone, I sacrifice one of his screwdrivers and use it like a chisel at the base of the mast. The crane is still attached (of course it is, he's charging me by the hour here...) and there is some tension on the cable. When I chisel my way around the mast step one quarter inch at a time, I think I see it move. Hope! First Obama is elected President and now this! Hope is alive! I keep chiseling. More movement! Yes we can!

And just like that, a mere three hours after we started, the mast just lifts right off the boat. Magic.

Never mind that the boom is still attached. We'll deal with that later. Let's get some lunch. Then we'll figure out how to deal with the rest.

During lunch the truck arrives, so we have that in the hopper. The only other variable now (I stupidly thought) was getting her hauled out.

Krumm went at taking all the rigging off the mast, except the port side spreader which, like his friend the mast, was welded in place from 30 years of corrosion. Awesome. I begged a Sawzall from a guy in the yard and just cut the damn boom free of the gooseneck. Proper tool, proper job.

The haulout was almost uneventful, except for the fact that they put the forward strap too close to the bow and almost dropped us. Good times.

To the washdown station we went and transformed this slimy, muck-covered but surprisingly unblemished bottom side...
...into this:

Check out that egg beater of a propeller. No wonder this thing is so notoriously sluggish under power. Start saving pennies for a three-bladed Max Prop!

Bring on the truck! The coolest truck ever built. Hydraulic everything. Set the boat on it, raise up the padded arms to hold it in place, tie it down, and we're golden!

And this is when Krumm inquires about getting the boat OFF the truck back at the house. It's easy, says the driver, you just take your jackstands and set them up and we lower the trailer down and drive out. "You do have jackstands, don't you?"

No. You're supposed to have them, Mr. Boat Transport and Storage Guy.

They forgot to send the jackstands! Jack, how could you? We were so close!

Remember my lesson about not doing things over the phone? Well, when I called looking for jackstands the previous week, no one had them. Now that I was there and needed them, no problem! The boys at SeaMarine (no coincidence, the same outfit that sold the old boat) came to the rescue with 4 used stands. We're back in business (and at a significantly lower price than Jack's jackstands would have been,

Off to the house. It was kind of crazy watching our boat go down the highway like that. And compared to the size boat he could be carrying on that trailer, she looked tiny!

Good truck drivers are amazing to watch in action. This guy casually backed his huge rig down our wooded, one-lane driveway, with drainage ditches on both sides and a big 90 degree turn in the middle. And he did it 6 inches at a time.

I pointed to where we wanted it in the driveway, and he hit the mark dead on. We couldn't have picked it up and set it there any better than he did.

So there she is. Up on stands and ready for some love and tenderness. We can't wait to get started, but it would be nice if they would fix that damn bridge pretty soon. It's a 3.5 hour adventure right now just to get over there.

As soon as we get back to the boat we'll post some pictures and thoughts about our first projects. The list is looooong.