Has it been a year already?

It’s been almost exactly one year since we last updated our blog.  But though the blog has been dormant, we’ve still been hard at work on our boat.

No, we’re still not in the Caribbean, and it looks like that goal will have to wait a while longer.  We’re nearing the end of the time and money we budgeted for this adventure, so we are planning to rejoin the “real world” later this year.  But while our adventure hasn’t turned out the way we envisioned, it’s been an adventure nonetheless, and one with plenty of positive experiences for which we are grateful.  Certainly, the opportunity for Philippe and I to spend every day working together has given our marriage an exceptionally strong start, and we’ve become an even more rock-solid team than we were before.

What happened?  A combination of things.  Despite our best efforts to educate ourselves and have the boat professionally surveyed, the boat ended up needing more work than we anticipated.  We also fell victim to the desire to make more improvements than were probably strictly necessary but were hard to resist (“well as long as we have X removed we should probably do something about Y while we can access it, because hopefully we’ll never be removing X again…”).  And we also had what felt like at times more than our share of just plain bad luck.

We’ve however gotten feedback that people have found the information we’ve posted useful, so we’re going to post some more information about the projects we’ve completed in the past year as well as our ongoing work.

We also haven’t given up on our dream – it’s just been put on hold and may ultimately take a different shape.  We like to joke that we’ve used up our supply of bad luck, so who knows what exciting opportunities are around the bend!  In the meantime, we’re excited that our boat is looking better every day as we continue to reinstall things, and we look forward to turning heads the day we are finally able to sail our beautiful bright YELLOW boat!

Deck and Topside Painted

 

Island Fun (not THAT kind island!)

Today was so frigid, rainy/sleety/snowy, and generally nasty that we stayed inside our snug trailer, so it seemed like a good time to write another summary of our boatyard exploits for those interested.   Actually, the nasty rainy weather kept us inside yesterday too, but we made good use of the time, also (thanks, Philippe, for doing our taxes!!!)

Basically, we’ve been focusing all our energy on continuing to get the boat (deck and topsides) ready to paint.  I never would have believed how long this process would take, but I can pretty much say that about every boat project we’ve done so far!

Of course, there have been many parts to the preparation phase – some necessary, and some we decided to do as improvements while we had the opportunity, because once it gets a shiny, expensive new paint-job, you can bet we’re not going to be doing anything to disturb that for a loooong time!

One of the improvements we decided to do was to add islands of fiberglass beneath items which will be installed on the deck.  This will keep water from pooling around them on a wet deck and, hopefully, help in the battle against corrosion as well as make the installations even less likely to leak.  Philippe measured and cut shapes out of sheets of fiberglass to fit beneath our chainplates, deck fills, ventilation fixtures (Nicro solar vents and mushroom vents), the windlass, and the steering pedestal.  The islands were cut from fiberglass sheets 1/4” and 3/8” thick which we purchased.

Close

07-Oct-2011 06:53, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 4.0, 6.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 80

Philippe finished cutting out all the islands.

Philippe used a jig saw to cut out the shapes and then a laminate trimmer to round their top edge.  Though he did an awesome job cutting the shapes, it’s just not possible to cut accurately enough with a jig saw to get perfect circles.  Using hole saws to cut the fiberglass would have given us perfect circles of course, but buying the various sizes would not have been cheap.  So we opted for the jig saw instead, and we think the imperfections are so slight that they will be imperceptible.  We then epoxied the shapes in place on the deck.

Close

19-Jan-2012 13:22, Apple iPhone 4S, 2.4, 4.28mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 64

Epoxying the "islands"
Close

Epoxying the "islands"19-Jan-2012 13:22, Apple iPhone 4S, 2.4, 4.28mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 80

Close

28-Feb-2012 14:53, Apple iPhone 4S, 2.4, 4.28mm, ISO 64

This shows, from top left, the islands for the Nicro vents, chainplates, and windlass.  The Nicro vent and chainplate islands are being blocked in place by lead weights in the photos while the epoxy fastening them to the deck hardens.

We also constructed small islands for the feet of the NavPod that we will install over the companionway to house the instrument displays.  Because of the slant of the deck in this location, we made mounds of epoxy and then lightly set the NavPod feet (wrapped in saran wrap so the epoxy didn’t stick) on top of them to mold them into the correct height and shape.  We then sanded them and touched them up with fairing epoxy (easily sandable epoxy) to make them smooth and even.

Close

03-Feb-2012 15:33, Apple iPhone 4S, 2.4, 4.28mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 64

Close

04-Feb-2012 10:00, Apple iPhone 4S, 2.4, 4.28mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 64

The left picture shows using the feet of the NavPod support to form the islands.  The light provided some extra heat to help the epoxy cure since the temperature that day was borderline warm enough for epoxy.  The picture on the right shows a NavPod island before it’s been sanded next to the island for the GPS.

A related improvement we did was to create a couple additional pathways to help water drain along the deck.  In several places around the deck, Philippe sanded down through the molded non-skid to create smooth channels at the same level as the non-non-skid parts of the deck.

Close

13-Sep-2011 15:48, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 80

Sanding of the deck in process. You can see lots of the non-skid sanded down, but a patch is still left.
Close

Sanding of the deck in process. You can see lots of the non-skid sanded down, but a patch is still left.13-Dec-2011 09:13, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 6.3, 6.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 80

The photo on the left shows a channel near the companionway, the photo on the right shows two channels near the bow (after most of the deck was sanded).

So those are just a couple things we’ve been working on to get ready for painting (in addition to sanding, of course).  We hope to be finished with all sanding and ready to paint in a week or two, if the weather will cooperate.  This current pattern of rain every three days has not been helping our forward momentum.  Of course, probably around the time we’ll be ready to paint, it will be prime pollen season.  So painting may end up getting pushed back even further while we work on other projects and wait for the right conditions.  But please cross your fingers we’ll get lucky – it will feel SO good to cross such a huge project off our list!

Wedding Bells (and a trailer)

As Philippe mentioned, we took a break from boatwork this fall to get married!  The Big Day was November 5, but we didn’t get much boatwork done from about mid-October to mid-November due to last-minute wedding preparations and the arrival of Philippe’s parents and a friend from France.

We had a wonderful time at our wedding – it was amazing to have family and friends travel from various corners the US and beyond to gather in one place and celebrate with us!  It was a beautiful day with the fall leaves at their peak colors.  We were fortunate that the weather was sunny, though there was a strong cold wind that kept most people inside the reception venue (a yacht club near Gloucester, Virginia) rather than enjoying the waterfront view from the deck or lawn like we’d envisioned.  Oh well, one can’t have everything.  On the plus side, the cold windy weather lead to a beautiful sky full of dramatic clouds that looks amazing in our photos.

Close

05-Nov-2011 04:47, Canon Canon EOS 5D, 5.0, 24.0mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 50

Close

05-Nov-2011 06:03, Canon Canon EOS 5D, 4.0, 64.0mm, 0.005 sec, ISO 125

Oh, and in response to a comment on Philippe’s last post, the maid of honor and best man (my sister and brother-in-law) were indeed pretty great, but I would have to disagree with the second part of her statement.  Instead, I’d say our wedding was one of the two best weddings of the last two years  :)

Our honeymoon is deferred until whenever our boat is ready, so we enjoyed spending the week after the wedding with Philippe’s parents.  We did some local sightseeing including Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown.  But too soon it was time to say goodbye to them, and we resumed work on the boat.

We went to work sanding the deck of the boat in preparation for painting, thinking we had a solid month and half to work before stopping to visit my family around Christmas…but naturally that was not to be.  We got word around the end of November that the residents of the house where we had been renting a private room above the garage unexpectedly had to move out by the end of the year.  Which meant we did, too!

So suddenly we were back where we this summer – needing to find a place to live.  Over the summer, we’d toyed with the idea of buying a trailer to live in at the boatyard, but after a little looking, we hadn’t found one in our price range (as cheap as possible) that was in good condition .  However, that night in late November when we got the call about needing to move, I looked on Craiglist and saw a listing for a trailer that sounded pretty good and located only about 15 minutes down the road.  I called the owner that night, we saw the trailer the next morning, and by 11am we were the owners of a 24 foot trailer.  We hope to be able to sell it for the same price when we’re ready to move onto the boat.  We spent the next couple days thoroughly cleaning it (even though it looked pretty clean).  It took a few more days to pack our things, move, and organize, but then we were back to work sanding.

We’re really enjoying living in our little trailer – in some ways it’s how we imagine living on our boat will be (trying to make the best use of limited space).  It’s parked on an unused gravel road in a quiet corner of the boatyard, so we can’t beat the commute, and we’re looking forward to the money we’ll save on gas!

Close

22-Dec-2011 09:56, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 80

Close

22-Dec-2011 09:57, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.005 sec, ISO 80

Close

22-Dec-2011 10:02, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 100

When we left to spend the holidays at my parents’ house, we were a few days shy of  having the whole deck sanded.  So that’s what we’ve jumped back into this week!

A Story of Teak

Ooops –  we got scolded in Christmas cards from friends for not updating our blog more often!  We were actually surprised to hear that they read it from time to time…sorry!  Life has been so busy in the past two months that the blog was constantly pushed to the bottom of the list.  We got married, then we became homeless, but all is well now (not that marriage was ever bad ;) ).  So, in the next two weeks, we promise we will post more about what happened in the past two months.

In October, we were working to refurbish the teak caprail/rubrail of the boat.  It was cracked in many places, and we believed this was responsible for some of the leaks in our cabin.  Plus, the wood treatment had mostly flaked off, thus the teak was unprotected against weather and sun.  It wasn’t even a pretty silver teak color (however Erin disagrees that silvered teak is pretty) which naturally occurs when teak is left bare.  Sparse patches of peeling tan varnish remained, and dirt rendered the remaining more black than gray.   Basically, our teak was looking like a badly mixed black and tan!

Car & block system for the jib sheets and furling line
Close

Car & block system for the jib sheets and furling line07-Jul-2010 04:58, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 100

Our sad looking teak

First, we removed the stainless steel rubrail and Erin washed it with barkeeper’s friends to remove any rust.  In the meantime, I washed all the teak twice, first scrubbing with dish detergent to remove all the built-up dirt, then with barkeeper’s friend.  The oxalic acid in barkeeper’s friend reacts with the wood to lighten it and even out its color for the future varnish to show better.  We then repaired all cracks with a special teak epoxy glue and filler from CPES, and replaced many of the screws that were no longer securing the teak to the fiberglass.  We also had to remove one of the planks of teak at the bow – which had nearly completely pulled out – to re-bed it properly.  Finally, after scrapping away old crumbly sealant showing underneath some of the teak, we re-injected and packed new polyether sealant.

The white is sealant, but we are also gluing the caprail to the rubrail, and screwing them together
Close

The white is sealant, but we are also gluing the caprail to the rubrail, and screwing them together29-Sep-2011 11:40, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 6.3, 6.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 80

Applying sealant underneath the teak coaming.  There was a huge gap due to the hold sealant having falled apart.
Close

Applying sealant underneath the teak coaming. There was a huge gap due to the hold sealant having falled apart.08-Oct-2011 14:58, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.01 sec, ISO 80

Close

08-Oct-2011 14:59, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.01 sec, ISO 80

Re-installing one plank of teak & new sealant

Second, Erin sanded all the teak smooth, while I was working on other projects.  Sanding also removed the old varnish from most areas, and while she couldn’t sand the teak entirely flat (it was too old and deeply grooved and she would have had to sand off too much wood), she did smooth out many of big grooves.

Close-up of the epoxy glue and filler.  The filler is whitish, the glue is darker.  Both are special for teak (or any oily wood). We hope they will hold over time, but we also screwed the caprail to the rubrail to make sure it does hold.
Close

Close-up of the epoxy glue and filler. The filler is whitish, the glue is darker. Both are special for teak (or any oily wood). We hope they will hold over time, but we also screwed the caprail to the rubrail to make sure it does hold.07-Oct-2011 13:49, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.01 sec, ISO 80

Getting ready to varnish, everything is masked off.
Close

Getting ready to varnish, everything is masked off.09-Oct-2011 10:32, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 6.3, 6.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 80

Close

09-Oct-2011 10:32, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 6.3, 6.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 80

Repaired cracks & masking the sanded teak for varnishing

Finally, when all of it was sanded, we wiped the teak clean with xylene, masked off the fiberglass and prepared to apply the varnish.  We chose simplicity with a varnish alternative called “Cetol – Marine“.  Cetol is in between a varnish and a paint.  It is easy to apply and easy to maintain (relatively), and protects the wood very well according to Practical Sailor’s most recent testing of wood treatments.  Some people do not like the dark amber color that Cetol gives to the wood but we actually liked that very much.  It has the color that wood should have in our minds.  Plus, that darkening more effectively camouflages all the epoxy-filled cracks.

Compare to what is was before...
Close

Compare to what is was before…09-Oct-2011 12:52, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 80

Tada! Varnish, that was fast (just 4h)
Close

Tada! Varnish, that was fast (just 4h)09-Oct-2011 12:51, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.006 sec, ISO 80

How pretty is that? Yes we see place we used the epoxy underneath, but those will be covered by hardware.
Close

How pretty is that? Yes we see place we used the epoxy underneath, but those will be covered by hardware.09-Oct-2011 12:52, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 80

Here is what the varnish does... protect the teak from water!
Close

Here is what the varnish does… protect the teak from water!10-Oct-2011 06:17, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 80

Applying of Cetol Marine

By the second coat of Cetol, we were very happy.  It was looking great!  But when we arrived the morning after applying our third coat, eager to see how pretty our teak looked, we had a bad shock.  Our previously beautiful teak was now milky white.  It turns out that we may have applied the Cetol too late in the day and the Cetol may not have fully dried before condensation settled on the wood.

Arghhhh.... Last coat of varnish... we messed up! We applied it too late in the day or the day was more humid or we don't know... but it ended up all cloudy :(
Close

Arghhhh…. Last coat of varnish… we messed up! We applied it too late in the day or the day was more humid or we don't know… but it ended up all cloudy :( 18-Oct-2011 09:16, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 7.1, 9.13mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 80

Cloudy everywhere.... gone our nice varnish :(
Close

Cloudy everywhere…. gone our nice varnish :( 18-Oct-2011 09:15, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 5.0, 9.13mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 80

Close

18-Oct-2011 09:15, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 5.6, 9.13mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 80

Catastrophe!

We first tried to remove that last coat, but it was making more of a mess than anything.  So, Erin sanded all the teak, all over again.  But every cloud has a silver lining, and Erin by then was such an expert teak sander that she actually did a better job sanding the teak smooth and flat than her first time around (Or she was so annoyed at having to do it all again that she was more aggressive with the sander).  Our sanded teak was even more beautiful than before, and thus when we re-applied that first coat Cetol it turned out even better than before! We were happy again!

How beautiful is that sanded teak!
Close

How beautiful is that sanded teak!22-Oct-2011 05:31, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.005 sec, ISO 80

We then applied 2 coats of varnish, and here it is back and pretty.
Close

We then applied 2 coats of varnish, and here it is back and pretty.25-Oct-2011 10:05, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 6.3, 6.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 80

Close

22-Oct-2011 05:31, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 80

Close

25-Oct-2011 10:05, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 6.3, 6.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 80

Close

25-Oct-2011 10:05, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 80

Close

25-Oct-2011 10:06, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 6.3, 6.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 80

Re-sanded teak (so smooth!) & Cetol Applied (before/after)

Before of our wedding, we however only had time to apply two coats of Cetol Marine.  Normally, we should have applied one more coats.  However, the two coats we applied are still protecting the teak from the weather and sun, and we will simply apply the remaining coats in spring.

Next project was the wedding… I’ll let Erin post about that.

Cheers
Philippe

Rain, rain, rain…and our ark isn’t ready yet!

I never promised Philippe that Virginia would have the perfect climate of southern California.  In fact, I warned him that it gets cold in the winter and can be very humid in the summer.  But as I have been swearing to him nearly every day these past nine months, it’s not usually this bad.  After a long and frigid winter, nearly no spring, a tornado that ripped through the center of town, a blazing hot and humid summer, a hurricane, and now seemingly unending rain, I don’t think he believes me anymore.  With this sudden cold spell, we even had to break out the long underwear to work at the boat today.  But hey – at least we don’t get earthquakes like they do in California…oh that’s right, we had one of those too!

Tree blocking our way the morning after the hurricane

The remains of that tree blocking the road. It's apparently free - and still available if you're interested...

The current rainy weather has us so frustrated because we’re currently hard at work on preparing our exterior teak to apply Cetol (an easier-to-maintain alternative to varnish) and preparing our deck to be painted.  We plan to Cetol the teak before we paint the deck, but we need the wood to be thoroughly dry before we can sand it and apply the Cetol, and then we need about a 5 day window without rain to apply all the coats.  Then we’ll need a similar rain-free window to paint.  Every night we check the various weather websites and say to each other, “just a couple more days of rain, and then we’re supposed to have a week of sunny weather.”  Only problem is that every night, the rainy forecast is extended a day or two.

There’s definitely no shortage of work that needs to be done on the boat, so we’re able to work on indoor tasks while it’s raining.  But we’rereally looking forward to applying the Cetol and painting the deck, because it will give us such a sense of satisfaction to finally have a big task like that completed.  And then we’ll be able to start re-installing all of the things we’ve removed from the deck which will also feel good.

Unfortunately, we’ve still got many big projects in various stages of incompleteness.  We’d originally envisioned sailing south shortly after our wedding on November 5, but that has definitely been revised.  The boat needs more work than we thought, and everything takes way longer to do than we thought.  Naturally we’re disappointed at the delay, but we’ve made out peace with it.  It is said that the definition of cruising is “doing boatwork in exotic locations.”  Hopefully by taking the time now to do what needs to be done and to do it well, we will minimize the chance of significant boatwork when we finally get to those exotic locations!

In the meantime, it sure would help if we could get those cool but sunny fall days that I swear to Philippe are coming.

Reducing Windage in Preparation for Huricane Irene!

Our boatyard hauled out more than 60 boats in the past three days.  Everyone was scrambling to get their boat ready for the passing of huricane Irene, reducing windage to a minimum and tying down everything.

(Not a space was available anymore in the yard.)

Close

26-Aug-2011 15:42, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.006 sec, ISO 80

Our boat is the most ready of any boat!  Look at that, we have no more wind generator, gone is the solar panel, and for good measure, we even removed  the steering pedestal and windvane.  Ok, they weren’t actually removed on account of the hurricane, but still…  In addition to all what we already removed – mast, boom stanchions, stern and bow pulpit – our windage couldn’t be more less than what it is :p

(Besides the radar, arch and Erin, nothing is sticking up anymore on our boat)

Close

26-Aug-2011 15:39, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.01 sec, ISO 80

No more wind generator, no more solar panel, no more steering
Close

No more wind generator, no more solar panel, no more steering26-Aug-2011 15:39, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 80

Close

26-Aug-2011 15:46, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 80

After removing a piece of hardware, we fill its mounting holes with epoxy.  Since many of those holes may be drilled again in the future when re-mounting the hardware, we made sure before filling them with epoxy to dig inside each hole at the wood core (sandwiched between the layers of fiberglass forming the deck).  That way, when we drill a new hole, only the epoxy will show, and the wood core will forever be protected from future leaks.

(Filling holes is a meticulous but boring task)

Filling the thousands of holes left from all the removed gear.
Close

Filling the thousands of holes left from all the removed gear.25-Aug-2011 12:18, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 5.0, 6.7mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 80

All the holes (but the very big ones for the steering pedestal and speakers) are filled
Close

All the holes (but the very big ones for the steering pedestal and speakers) are filled26-Aug-2011 15:40, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 80

Close

26-Aug-2011 15:41, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 80

We also fixed all the deck drains which had broken over time.  This will also be a tremendous help to get Irene’s water off the boat fast.

Compare that to this poor boat which ran aground in the channel entrance… No one expects this boat to be there anymore on Sunday.

(Wooden ketch aground in the entrance channel to the creek)

Close

26-Aug-2011 15:59, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 5.0, 20.1mm, 0.01 sec, ISO 80

Now, let’s hope our own boat – and mast, boom, dinghy and everything else we tied down underneath – is still here on Sunday *cross fingers*

Philippe

20110827 Steering System
20110827 Windwane

Metal and Salt Water Don’t Mix Well

Close

21-Jul-2011 15:20, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 80

Close

04-Aug-2011 10:26, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 4.0, 6.7mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 80

That’s what our boat looks like these days, without its mast and boom, and almost all of the deck hardware removed.

Last time I posted, a month and half ago, we were prepping to remove the mast.  The removal went actually very well.  We couldn’t believe how easy it went… after all, “easy” is no lnoger part of our vocabulary when discussing boatwork ;) .

Erin and I had previously removed all running rigging (the ropes) and the boom, slackened all the standing rigging wire (some was so tight we had to ask help from Rick, one of the yard guy), disconnected all the electrical wires running up the mast, and unbolted the mast step (a cast aluminium piece bolted to the keel that the mast sits on).

Lee, the Stingray Point Boat Works yard manager, brought in the crane and Rick went up the mast, hooked up the crane below the spreaders, and then up the mast went.  After guiding it carefully to clear the deck, they layed it next to the boat on a few stands.  The mast now rests there with the boom and spinnaker pole stowed underneath it.

(Removal of the mast – Rick is attaching the crane to the mast, then guiding the mast over the side. I then take over and guide the mast from the deck while Rick wait for it on the ground. Last picture shows the mast resting next to the boat)

Close

22-Jun-2011 06:20, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 4.5, 6.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 80

Close

22-Jun-2011 06:44, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 5.0, 6.7mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 80

Close

22-Jun-2011 06:45, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 5.0, 20.1mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 80

Close

22-Jun-2011 06:46, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 5.0, 14.11mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 80

Close

22-Jun-2011 06:47, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 4.0, 6.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 80

Close

22-Jun-2011 07:21, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 4.0, 6.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 80

After the mast was down, we removed all the standing rigging from it, and measured the length of each shroud. Our plan is to replace the entire rigging ourselves using sta-lok mechanical terminals instead of swage fittings.  Swage fittings can trap moisture, and need to be done with a special machine, therefore requiring us to hire someone.  Mechanical terminals can be done by hand, with just a few tools.  The fittings are also re-usable for when we will next replace the rigging (hopefully in no less than 10-15 years).

With the mast down, we had a good look at what’s underneath it.  Morgan 382s are keel stepped boats, meaning the mast is resting on the keel.  Unfortunately, Morgan chose to build a fiberglass structure over the keel, and rest the mast (and the floor) onto that structure.  Over time, and with each owner tensionning the standing rigging tighter and tighter, that fiberglass structure got compressed underneath the mast and sank.  Before our mast was removed, we measured that sinking to be 1/2″, but it popped up back to be 1/4″ after the mast was removed.  One of the main reason for us to remove the mast is to reinforce that fiberglass structure.  We are studying how best do that, and have not come up with a solution yet.  We’re treading carefully, reading a lot, and even discussed with the gentleman who was production manager at Morgan when our boat was built,  before we go on and do any reinforcement.

In the meantime, we went ahead and removed all the stainless steel chainplates.  Chainplates are used to fasten the standing rigging to the hull of a sailboat.  If a chainplate fails, the rigging fails, and the mast goes down in a bang.  Our chainplates had some surface corrosion, and had never been removed in 32 years, but they didn’t look too bad.  They were however a pain to remove, clearly not an “easy” job.  Erin had to crawl and twist herself in the tightest of places to reach each nut underneath the deck, while I had to apply oil or/and heat or/and use over-sized wrenches to turn each bolt.  We even had to make our own tool as we couldn’t find a flat screwdriver tip wide enough to fit snugly into the slots of the the biggest bolts.  The battle raged on for days, but each bolt came out, one after the other.

(Erin squeezing inside the smallest of the cockpit locker.  It’s the same locker in all pictures, but first she didn’t want to get all the way… Next day, she had to :) )

Close

28-Jun-2011 11:09, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 4.5, 6.7mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 80

Close

28-Jun-2011 11:09, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 6.3, 6.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 80

Close

04-Aug-2011 10:25, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.005 sec, ISO 100

To our great dismay, after cleaning each chainplate meticulously with Bar Keepers Friend, we found tiny cracks.  Cracks signify the stainless steel has started to fail, and when we brought the chainplates to Charlie from Bay Area Rigging, a local rigger who had already given us good advice on how to remove the chainplates and other mast hardware, the verdict was half expected:  our chainplates are past their prime and in need of replacement.

To comfort us, Charlie showed us what time, salt water and corrosion can do to a chainplate he recently removed from boat as old as ours.  The metal was cracked clean through, like the steel had become brittle, just under the top bolt hole.  That chainplate was from a 37′  Tayana sailboat whose couple sailed around the World, never knowing that their mast was hanging but from the strength of the only one remaining bolt on that chainplate.  Scary!

(Example of chainplate corrosion and crack, invisible from one side but clearly cracked from the other.  While our chainplates had only small cracks, over time that is what they would have become)

After our success removing the chainplates, we moved on to remove other hardware on the deck.  Most hardware on the deck had never been removed in 32 years, and the sealant stopping moisture to enter inside the boat (or worse between the layers of fiberglass and wood core of the deck) have long been rendered useless in several places (every time it rained, we could see drip coming down the bolts).  We started removing all the small hardware and then went on to remove the stanchions, the stern pulpit and the jib tracks.  That was another fun job!  We didn’t have to fight each bolt as much as the chainplates, but Erin had to conquered her fear of small dark and mildewy lockers, since she was the only one that could fit in them.  We even had to remove the entire kitchen cabinet to access the nuts behind it.

(Is something missing in the kitchen? Yep, the cabinet is out and we have great access to all cables and hoses behind)

Close

16-Jul-2011 14:28, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 100

Close

16-Jul-2011 14:29, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 80

At last, most of the deck hardware is removed.  We however still need to remove the steering pedestal.  We are now filling each hole with epoxy to ensure that moisture will never be able to penetrate between the layers of fiberglass and wood core should the bedding sealant fail (which it will ultimately, silicon can’t last forever in the sun, heat and salt water, and you should re-bed hardware every ~10 years).  If you want to read on how to seal deck holes, check out that great how-to article on Sealing Deck Penetrations.

But the story about metal hasn’t ended yet.  Our stanchions also have numerous tiny cracks, and while not as critical hardware as chainplates, we certainly wouldn’t want one to break the day someone is trown against them in rough weather.  We are therefore also looking at replacing all of our stanchions.  The company that originally made them is still around and we are hoping they can recreate the exact same style for us.

Finally, and to close this metal story, we also found issues with our mast spreaders and mast step.  Both are made of cast aluminium.  Aluminium is a cool metal, when it corrodes, it protects itself from further corrosion with a white powdery layer.  However, when the environment stays moist, the corrosion continues and eats the aluminium until all that remains is white powder.

Our mast spreaders (the arms on the mast that hold two stainless steel wires running from the top of the mast to the deck chainplates) tip were wrapped in tape, and further wrapped in leather.  This was done to protect sails from chafing on the tips.  However, it has to be wrapped in such a way that moisture can escape.  Our tips were still moist when we unwappred them, after months on the hard.  Actually, our tips were not even there anymore, only white powder remained.  After some research, we sent the spreaders to the guys at JSI who were able to cut the corroded tips and weld new and improved tips.  They look great, but we still need to protect them from corrosion either with paint or anodizing. Obviously, we aren’t going to wrap them in tape or  leather when we re-install them, but will instead install one Delrin roller above each tip to protect the sails from chafing, yet leaving the tips uncovered.

(Unwrapping of our spreaders tips, and corrosion underneath. The last picture shows the new welded tips)

Mast spreader tip removal in process - 1/3
Close

Mast spreader tip removal in process – 1/324-Jun-2011 07:45, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 4.5, 6.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 80

2/3
Close

2/324-Jun-2011 07:45, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 4.5, 6.7mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 80

3/3
Close

3/324-Jun-2011 07:49, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 4.5, 6.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 80

Close

24-Jun-2011 07:42, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 6.3, 6.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 80

Close

26-Jun-2011 13:29, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 4.0, 9.13mm, 0.005 sec, ISO 80

Close

02-Aug-2011 08:30, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 320

As for our mast step, the pictures will speak for themselves.  When we removed it, we saw more white powder than gray aluminium, and after having it sandblasted, the metal looks like the lunar surface!  Charlie, from Bay Area Rigging, has adviced us to have a new mast step made from stainless steel instead.  We are looking into this.

(Mast bucket before – with the mast on, and right after removal – and after sandblasting.  The pits due to corrosion can clearly be seen.  Charlie estimated the mast step may have lost ~30% of its strength)

Close

25-May-2011 10:16, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 100

Close

22-Jun-2011 07:21, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 4.0, 6.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 80

Close

23-Jul-2011 13:53, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 5.0, 6.7mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 80

Close

23-Jul-2011 13:53, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 5.0, 6.7mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 80

Thus, it is clear that any metal, be it bronze, aluminium or even stainless steel has a finite life when in a harsh environment such as salt water.  We didn’t expect to have to replace our chainplates and stanchions, but everyone we spoke to told us that 15-20 years is the max life you can expect from stainless steel in a salt water environment.  So, hopefully all that hardware we are replacing will be good for the next 20 years.  We will definitely make sure to have a rigorous yearly inspection, cleaning and lubricating, to make sure the metal stays strong for many years.

Our first cruise on the Chesapeake Bay…but in someone else’s boat

Philippe and I spent this past week cruising on the lower Chesapeake – our first multi-day cruise with just the two of us and not part of a class.  It felt good to be actually sailing a sailboat for a change rather than dismantling one.  But this little sailing break wasn’t just for vacation.  I will be taking the Delmarva Circumnavigation course with the Maryland School of Sailing & Seamanship the 2nd week in August, and I had been accepted in the class on the condition that I accrue a few more days of skippering prior to the class.

At the time I signed up for the class, we thought we’d have our boat in the water by June, giving me plenty of additional sailing time.  Unfortunately, we have since come to the realization that it will be a while before our own boat is ready to go back in the water (that’s a whole ‘nother blog post!).  So we were forced to rent a boat so that I could add the necessary days to my sailing resume.  Fortunately, after LOTS of internet searching, we found a very reasonable rate for a 38’ Hunter through Lower Bay Sail Charter.

We first spent some time motoring and sailing the boat near its home marina in the Rappahannock River to get a feel for how it handles.  Then we spent a night anchored at Grog Island off Dymer Creek, followed by nights at marinas in Onancock and Tangier Island.

Dolphins wishing us well on our departure...
Close

Dolphins wishing us well on our departure…25-Jul-2011 06:44, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 4.5, 6.7mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 80

(A passing group of bottlenose dolphins brings us good luck as we leave the boat’s home marina on the Rappahannock)

(The weather was almost unbearably hot and humid, but there was no swimming after the first day after Philippe had a painful encounter with one of this guy’s friends…they were everywhere!)

One of the jellyfish that kept us from swimming
Close

One of the jellyfish that kept us from swimming26-Jul-2011 16:42, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 5.0, 14.11mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 800

Dymer Creek and it’s various coves mentioned in the cruising guide were surely picturesque about 10 or 15 years ago, but as we motored along it checking out the various possible anchorages, we became more and more disappointed.  Where there had once been wooded shores, there were now shiny new gargantuan houses surrounded by large, perfectly manicured lawns cleared of all trees.  Our 2006 cruising guide described one cove as providing views of grazing horses and sheep.  When we came upon that cove, there was no trace of rural charm, but rather an unbelievably massive house under construction.

Now I admit that I would love to live on the water – who wouldn’t?  And to be fair, there were a few more modestly-sized houses and those tucked discreetly into the wooded shoreline.  But they were far outnumbered by newer-looking ostentatious mega-houses.  It would have been a different place even just a few years ago, and we both couldn’t help feeling a bit angry at the waste of irreplaceable natural beauty.  I wonder if there is any coastline along the western shore of the bay and its creeks and rivers that isn’t lined with houses – we didn’t see any on this trip, but we obviously only scratched the surface of what there is to explore.  Hopefully there are areas with tighter restrictions on development to preserve some of the bay’s beauty for the future.

One of the huge waterfront houses. It must have been so pretty before all those huge houses were built!
Close

One of the huge waterfront houses. It must have been so pretty before all those huge houses were built!26-Jul-2011 12:37, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 7.1, 20.1mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 80

Close

26-Jul-2011 12:39, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 5.6, 20.1mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 80

We ultimately we spent the night anchored off Grog Island.  We felt a bit like we were anchored in people’s backyards, but at least those houses were among the more discreet ones.  As it was our first time anchoring for the night, we slept in the cockpit to keep better track of our status during the night.  The winds had been forecast to be mild that night, but at one point we were getting some pretty strong gusts.  Turns out I was pretty useless to the anchor watch – I remember being half-asleep and noting that the wind seemed really strong and the boat was rocking and swinging pretty good, but apparently that didn’t alarm me enough to fully awaken me.  Fortunately, Philippe is a much lighter sleeper and checked periodically to make sure we were still firmly anchored.

At anchor, reading and relaxing.
Close

At anchor, reading and relaxing.27-Jul-2011 03:18, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.006 sec, ISO 100

Close

26-Jul-2011 16:54, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 80

 (Relaxing at anchor)

The next day it was off across the bay to Onancock on the eastern shore.  Fortunately, we had good wind in the morning and got almost to the eastern shore before the wind died and we were forced to furl the sails and become a powerboat the rest of the way.  What we could see of the eastern shore as we approached seemed to have far fewer houses lining the water – hopefully its remoteness will continue to protect it.  The town of Onancock lies about 5 miles or so down the Onancock Creek.  It was a pretty creek, but still too many giant new homes for my taste.  The town of Onancock itself was quite cute, and we spent a couple hours just strolling around.

The town of Onancock
Close

The town of Onancock28-Jul-2011 04:27, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 4.0, 6.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 80

Onancock wharf
Close

Onancock wharf28-Jul-2011 05:24, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 6.3, 6.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 80

The next morning we were off to Tangier Island.  We anchored off Cod Harbor for lunch before heading around to the channel entrance on the eastern side of the island.  The weather forecast was calling for possible strong gusts of wind overnight, so we had decided to stay at the marina rather than at anchor to play it safe.  Our cruising guide said the channel was dredged to 8 or 9 feet, and the charted depths were in agreement, so we had figured it would be no problem for our 5 foot draft, even at low tide, but we were definitely holding our breath as we watched the depth readings drop to less than a foot below the keel on several occasions.  At one point we suddenly realized we weren’t moving forward anymore – we had become stuck in the mud on the bottom!  But we were able to back out of it without too much trouble.  We had been so engrossed in watching the channel markers and the depths that we didn’t notice the wind was slowly blowing us sideways to the edge of the channel.

Close

28-Jul-2011 11:56, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 6.3, 14.11mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 80

It was very shallow, and we found ourselves aground at one point.
Close

It was very shallow, and we found ourselves aground at one point.28-Jul-2011 11:57, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 6.3, 6.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 80

Close

28-Jul-2011 11:58, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 6.3, 6.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 80

(Channel entering Tangier from the east)

After Mr. Parks, an eighty-year old native of Tangier, helped us tie up at his marina, Philippe and I wandered all around the island (which isn’t big).  There’s basically two “main” roads lined with houses on either side of a marsh with several bridges connecting them.  We happened across a dock with canoes and kayaks and a sign saying they are free to use – if we’d known about that, we would have definitely gotten there earlier!  Next time…

Close

28-Jul-2011 14:30, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 4.0, 6.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 80

Close

28-Jul-2011 13:17, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 5.0, 11.45mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 80

Close

28-Jul-2011 14:35, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 80

After some of the other sights along the bay, we both thought Tangier was a breath of fresh air.  No McMansions (no space for them!), and everywhere evidence that the town exists, as it has for over a century, for those who make their living on the waters of the bay.

We left Tangier early the next morning and were able to sail about half of the thirty-ish nautical miles back to the marina before the wind died.  But we can’t complain – we got some good sailing in during the week despite July’s reputation for very light wind.  And more importantly, we had a chance to remind ourselves why we’re working so hard on our boat.  Next time we cruise the bay, it will be on our own boat!

Freedom's Chance CruiseFreedom’s Chance CruiseJul 30, 2011Photos: 61

Bow Platform (Anchor Chain Well & Anchor Locker) – Part 1

As we posted a month ago, one of our major projects is the upgrade of our anchor chain well and top anchor locker.  To briefly summarize, water intrusion due to broken drains had weakened the bulkhead separating the anchor chain well and top anchor locker from the forward berth.  We thus decided to replace this bulkhead.  By now, we should have finished and the new bulkhead should be in place… Well, it’s not. It’s all ready to be fiberglassed into place, but we realized two weeks ago that having this bulkhead removed was giving us great access to upgrade and reinforce attachments of the bow fittings, namely the anchor platform, bow pulpit, anchor locker deck doors, forestay chainplate and bow cleats.  So, we are waiting to fiberglass the new bulkhead in place, and are upgrading the bow platform fittings.

View of the forepeak (anchor chain well and top anchor locker)
Close

View of the forepeak (anchor chain well and top anchor locker)

Thus, in the past month, we have :

  • Prepped for and fiberglassed the entire anchor chain well and anchor locker to protect all exposed wood, reinforce the bow, and prevent future water intrusion
  • Fiberglassed in a reinforcement for a future stainless steel fitting that will  provide both a fitting for the bobstay for the anchor platform and an attachment for two snubbers for the anchor chain
  • Painted the anchor chain well and top anchor locker with 3 coats of Interlux Interprotect 2000E
  • Cut and fitted the new bulkhead precisely, and prepped it to be fiberglassed in place (i.e. sanded, epoxied for moisture and additional strength)
  • Installed new drains out of PEX tubing, making sure to seal the hull with epoxy reinforced with silica where the drains goes through the future bulkhead and hull (thus, if they ever break, it won’t rot the bulkhead like the old drains)
  • Made a mock up for a door to access the anchor chain well, and ordered it to be fabricated by www.teakmarinewoodwork.com
  • Removed the bow pulpit and bow cleats (surprisingly, they were very easy to remove)
  • Cleaned and polished the bow pulpit and cleats using Bar Keepers Friend and a scotchbrite pad followed by Miracle Cloth
  • Cut the new anchor locker deck doors out of marine plywood and epoxied them for moisture and strength

Before & After Pictures

Top anchor locker view
Close

Top anchor locker view10-Apr-2011 13:47, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 80

Close

03-Jun-2011 04:00, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.006 sec, ISO 80

Anchor locker bulkhead - Rotten wood removed at top starbord corner
Close

Anchor locker bulkhead – Rotten wood removed at top starbord corner10-Apr-2011 14:49, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 200

Pretty good!
Close

Pretty good!20-May-2011 10:15, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 320

Rot on the bottom of the top anchor locker floor
Close

Rot on the bottom of the top anchor locker floor10-Apr-2011 13:49, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.1 sec, ISO 200

Close

25-May-2011 09:20, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 100

Top corner (port) from anchor locker view of the silicon sealant plug
Close

Top corner (port) from anchor locker view of the silicon sealant plug10-Apr-2011 15:06, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 100

Close

01-Jun-2011 05:19, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 100

Wood chiseled to the fiberglass tabbing that was holding the bulkhead
Close

Wood chiseled to the fiberglass tabbing that was holding the bulkhead29-Apr-2011 10:25, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 100

1 coat of white painted over the grey
Close

1 coat of white painted over the grey02-Jun-2011 16:31, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 100

Currently, we are making mock-ups of backing plates for the bowsprit, bow pulpit and bow cleats.  Our plan is to cut those backing plates out of 1/4 inch aluminum.  It is apparent that the loads on those bow fittings require backing plates as cracks in the gelcoat are present where those fitting were attached. We are also working on fitting the new anchor locker deck doors, and once the fit is right, we will fiberglass them, paint them and install them to close our top anchor locker. In between this major upgrade project, we have also numerous ancillary projects on days we don’t want to work on the bow or in the forward berth. Thus, in the past month, we have also:

  • Cleaned the engine
  • Removed the running rigging
  • Removed the boom
  • Prepped for the mast to be removed (Hopefully next Wednesday, June 22nd)

It has been now 2.5 months that we have been working full time on the boat (except a few weekends of rest visiting Erin’s family and re-stocking on food ;) ).  We now feel more confident in handling tools and in working with wood and fiberglass. We will even soon be working with metal, shaping the backing plates and replacing the shrouds.  We are slowly gaining momentum, working faster. Instead of a project taking us 6x longer than expected, it might only take us 3x longer. It’s a good feeling though to gain that confidence, and the work we do is always careful, as precise and as strong as we can make it.

If you want to us the entire album of the bow platform work, with comments, please go to: https://picasaweb.google.com/phboujon/2011AnchorWellAndBowPlatform

One and half months into our new jobs: Boatyard workers

Wow, it has already been a month and half since I quit my job to work full time on the boat with Erin. We have done a lot, but boat work is slow, especially when you are learning everything from scratch. Erin and I aren’t the handy type, but we are getting there. Our most handy work before that must have been to put together IKEA furniture :) . Yet, in the past month and half we have worked for the 1st time with fiberglass and epoxy, 1st time cutting and shaping wood, 1st time doing plumbing, 1st time handling all those power toys we have bought along those weeks. Every day we learn new skills, messing up most of the time at first, but doing it better the second time around.

Our day is very simple: we go to the gym for an hour in the morning, then get to the boat, sit down by the water for breakfast, work a few hours, sit down for lunch, and work a few more hours until the sun start going down. By the time we are back at home, and wash the dirt and dust of the day, we are ready to crash. That is why we haven’t posted much. Sorry, I doubt it will change, but we will try.

So, what have we done in a month and half? We have 3 major projects going on at once:

  1. Blisters: After we stripped the bottom paint, and got down to the smooth green epoxy barrier coating of the boat (what protects the fiberglass from the water), we saw a few 1 inch slight bumps. For a while, we really wondered whether those were blisters. Blisters occur when water gets into fiberglass and start a process called osmosis, very slowly eating it away and creating a pocket of acid liquid that make a bump on the hull, referred to as a blister.Our bumps felt hard, not mushy and even poking at them didn’t turn up any liquid. It didn’t match the description of what we read. So, we opened a few with an angle grinder loaded with 80 grit sand paper. At first the fiberglass underneath the epoxy barrier coating looked fine. In doubt, we went deeper, and then here it was, moisture, mushy layer of fiberglass, deep into the laminate. Let me tell you, we weren’t too happy! Spooked by this surprise, we then ran our hands along every inch of the hull and unfortunately felt even more blisters that were hard to see.
    Close

    14-Apr-2011 14:29, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.025 sec, ISO 80

    While opening blisters, one was so deep that we actually breached into the void that make up the holding tank. The water running of the hole was in the holding tank. The water was clear, and not smelly, and we believe there is a crack and leak between the bilge and the holding tank, as they are separated by simply a few layer of fiberglass. That is why we also cleaned the bilge.
    Close

    While opening blisters, one was so deep that we actually breached into the void that make up the holding tank. The water running of the hole was in the holding tank. The water was clear, and not smelly, and we believe there is a crack and leak between the bilge and the holding tank, as they are separated by simply a few layer of fiberglass. That is why we also cleaned the bilge.18-Apr-2011 09:18, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.006 sec, ISO 80

    Close

    22-Apr-2011 16:17, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 320

    Most of the blisters are in the aft of the keel, where the holding tank (a simple void in the fiberglass) is. While the holding tank has apparently never been in use (the plumbing to it was old but clean inside), it was still full of brackish water. How do we know it was full of water? Well, when grinding one of those deep blisters, it was so deep we actually breached into the holding tank, and the boat starting peeing. We then removed with a small 12v pump about 12 gallon of water from a 15 gallon tank. Where did the water come from if the tank was never used? We think there may be a small crack in either the tank vent fitting that is sitting in the bilge, or directly in the bilge floor that also acts as the top of the tank. We will test and repair that later by pressurizing the tank and looking for a leak.

    Anyway, since then, we have opened ~30 blisters, most very deep, most in the keel. This isn’t good news. It means our keel has a lot of moisture. We know what the repair needs to be: stripping the keel down to fiberglass, removing a few more layers, letting it dry for a few months, and laying new fiberglass. We unfortunately don’t have the time for this. So, instead we are going to repair for the short term, grinding all blisters, laying them up with fiberglass cloth, and deal with the keel more thoroughly in a few years. For now, the blisters are drying out. We will post later when we fill them. We’ve also found a few dispersed deep blisters in lower sections of the hull and near the skeg, which we will likewise repair and closely monitor.

  2. Plumbing: Most of the plumbing was original 1979 plumbing. You can imagine the sight of the hoses… cracking, bulging, brittle. Most of our seacocks and thru-hulls, in bronze, were seized. Our fresh water plumbing had many failing patches made to repair leaks, plus it still used grey polybutylene tubing, known to be carcinogenic when using water treated with chlorine (that is any municipal water we would put in our tanks). And, as already mentioned above, our holding tank was full of brackish water. Clearly, the plumbing needed an overhaul.Good plumbing is critical to living comfortably on a boat. You want your water to taste good,, you want your toilet to work smoothly, and you want to be able to rely on your plumbing without worrying about dozens of leaky patches.

    So, we removed all of the plumbing and will replace it with new tubing and new fixtures. More to be posted about it later, it’s a big project.

    Before (Head plumbing)

    Old head plumbing.
    Close

    Old head plumbing.29-Jan-2011 14:00, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 800

    Close

    29-Jan-2011 14:01, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 800

    After (Removed but not final)

    Close

    13-Apr-2011 09:51, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.013 sec, ISO 80

    All thru-hulls removed.
    Close

    All thru-hulls removed.13-Apr-2011 10:49, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 6.3, 6.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 80

    All cleaned. Unfortunately, we think the drilling broke the tabbing of one of the bulkhead. You can see a crack at left, which is actually the tabbing separating from the inside hull. We will have to repair that, then reinforce the area before putting new thru-hulls.
    Close

    All cleaned. Unfortunately, we think the drilling broke the tabbing of one of the bulkhead. You can see a crack at left, which is actually the tabbing separating from the inside hull. We will have to repair that, then reinforce the area before putting new thru-hulls.22-Apr-2011 16:15, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 4.0, 9.13mm, 0.025 sec, ISO 100

  3. Anchor locker and anchor well:  After removing our rusted chain (we haven’t yet measured how long the rusted part was, but we suspect a good 100 feet out of our 300), we contemplated the design of the anchor well. It had two compartments: one bottom well that can hold 300 feet of chain for a primary anchor, and a top locker with access doors from the deck that can hold a mix of chain and rope for a secondary anchor. Originally, both compartments were not connected, but the previous owner created two access points from the top locker to the bottom well, so that you have complete access to all your anchor rode from the deck, in case it get stuck while running it out or when bringing it back onboard.  To prevent water that may enter the top locker from going down into the bottom well (even if this drain to the bilge), he also built a draining system that leave the access points to the bottom well always open but protected. We liked it.Unfortunately, the draining system used the original drains of the top locker – small bronze tubes going through the topside hull. Over time, the bronze cracked and water drained along the plywood bulkhead that separates the entire anchor well from the forward berth. In addition, that bulkhead, while tabbed with fiberglass along the hull, was not tabbed along the deck, meaning the anchor locker was not watertight. Thus, after checking behind the bulkhead’s wood veneer, we found signs of rot along the bulkhead. A bulkhead is a critical component of a boat, giving structural support to the hull and the deck. So we confronted another unexpected but important repair.
    Anchor windlass and anchor locker doors
    Close

    Anchor windlass and anchor locker doors07-Jul-2010 04:48, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 80

    Close

    10-Apr-2011 14:17, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 80

    Anchor locker bulkhead - Rotten wood removed at top starbord corner. It may also be rotten at top port corner.
    Close

    Anchor locker bulkhead – Rotten wood removed at top starbord corner. It may also be rotten at top port corner.10-Apr-2011 14:49, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 200

    Erin making a mock up of the anchor well bulkhead before we cut it,
    Close

    Erin making a mock up of the anchor well bulkhead before we cut it,28-Apr-2011 08:13, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.02 sec, ISO 80

    Cutting the bulkhead.
    Close

    Cutting the bulkhead.28-Apr-2011 09:09, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.02 sec, ISO 80

    All cut and sanded down to the fiberglass tabbing. We have nice access now to work inside.
    Close

    All cut and sanded down to the fiberglass tabbing. We have nice access now to work inside.29-Apr-2011 10:25, OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. u770SW,S770SW , 3.5, 6.7mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 100

    We had the option to just repair those rotted areas with cutting the plywood and replacing it with new plywood but we decided to remove the entire bulkhead and replace it with a new one. This also provided us great access to the anchor bottom well and underneath of the top locker to repair and reinforce the entire system. We will also be replacing the drains with PVC tubing, creating new, and more watertight doors for the top anchor locker to replace the old cracked ones, putting in a new bulkhead and tabbing it on all sides with fiberglass. Doing so, we will ensure minimal water will enter the anchor well, and no water can rot the bulkhead or enter the forward berth. This is our current major project and we have been working slowly through it but surely it’s advancing. We hope to put in the new bulkhead by the end of next week.

Each project would need a post of its own, and when completed we will certainly do so. Honestly, both the blisters and the bulkhead rot were not expected, at least not to that extent. The surveyor didn’t see any of that. This throws a wrench in our schedule, but we want a strong boat we can rely on, so we are taking the time required to do the necessary repairs well.

20110422 Blisters Problem
20110422 Removing of Plumbing
20110422 Removing Thru-hulls
20110410 Anchor Locker Pictures