Tag Archives: leaks

Solid to the core…

I’ve been promising these pictures, so at long last I bring you (drum roll please) COMPLETELY re-cored (and very solid, but pre-glassed) decks!

decks 039   This photo was taken before the final lapped ‘plank’ of 1/2 marine ply was lagged into place. Every thru-deck (cleats, fuel, water, waste lines) have been set with reinforcements that will keep water from reaching the new core.  Next, two layers of biaxial from bow to stern, and all deck leaks will have been banished!

Letting go of Perfection

Another winter is right around the corner, and once again, Annabel Lee remains right where she’s been for far too long.  No, the work I’ve been doing should have never taken this long, but sometimes health, hurricanes, and life in general get in the way. All the same I do know for certain (with the exception of any unforeseen impending disasters, of which I’ve had enough, thank you very much,) I am on the home stretch. If all goes according to plans (okay, go ahead and laugh. I know the boat gods are even as I type this.) her completely re-cored decks will once again be sheathed in fiberglass, and she WILL WILL WILL be afloat come spring, her decks nice and solid, her engine gleaming and purring, and her new-old mast standing high and proud. I may have mentioned in the past, it’s my delusional optimism that keeps me going. Hey, sometimes you just have to work with what you’ve got.

Now, I’ve heard the whispers. I know what some people are saying. I’m a perfectionist, and until I come to terms with that, the boat will never be done.  And that is true to some extent. For one, no boat is ever truly done –that just goes with the nature of boats. And I am a perfectionist when it comes to the boat, but only to a point. For example, I have a strong dislike for leaking decks, and I believe if you’re going to tear them all up and re-core them, you might as well do it once and do it right. So no, I won’t cut corners there. And I strongly believe that the engine room should be the cleanest, shiniest area on the entire boat, because then if there are any leaks, they are clear and easily located and addressed. But beyond that, I’m actually rather partial to the New England workboat philosophy – minimal brightwork, minimal shiny bits, and simply freshen up the paint once a season.  Let the boat look respectable, let her show she’s maintained, but don’t sweat the finish. Personally, I’m seriously considering simply rolling the hull with a nice, flat, off-white paint.  It’s a look I’m rather fond of, and not just aesthetically.  It’s a look that says, “This boat isn’t just a show piece.”

Don’t get me wrong – I’m the first to admire a truly beautiful, meticulous finish. You’ve got to respect the work and discipline that goes into achieving and maintaining it, and brightwork that gleams with flawless richness is truly a thing of beauty. I’d been that obsessive on my old catboat, Myra Lee, and took great pride in the admiration she attracted. But these days I’m letting go of that ideal. So long as she’s mechanically and structurally sound, I’d prefer  Annabel Lee be less of a show piece and more of a functional, functioning boat. A boat I won’t mind dogs romping around, and one I won’t mind hauling a striped bass aboard. A boat that guests don’t have to remove their shoes to board. A boat that dinghies can thump against all night without concern. A boat I don’t have to pamper. A boat with the lowest maintenance-to-use ratio I can achieve.  A boat I can simply enjoy.

It’s easy to get caught up in the quest for perfection. As a writer, there’s always another sentence we can tweak, and on boats, there’s always something that could shine just that much more.  But there’s a point where it might be best to let go of perfection in exchange for ‘good enough’. Because in the end, once Annabel Lee is finally anchored out, as the sun dips below the horizon as the clouds streak the sky with a magnificent pink and orange display, the last thing that will matter is how shiny her hull is.

And on that note, I found this video had been emailed to me from Jamestown Distributors, and it sums this philosophy up perfectly. It’s well worth watching.

I own that boat in the shed…

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You know the one. Nearly every boatyard has a ‘work-in-progress’ tucked away somewhere. Likely it’s something unique or uncommon, a boat with character. Usually it’s old, often but not always wood. In most cases it has suffered declining or misguided maintenance in the hands of previous owners, or else it’s been abandoned altogether, and now some optimistic (delusional) soul is undertaking a stem-to-stern restoration. Passers-by pause and shake their heads as they study it with a mix of awe and sympathy. They politely mumble, “but it’ll be beautiful when it’s done,” and then back away as though this condition might be contagious.

For years I’d I sailed a lovely little gaff-rigged catboat. Unfortunately, due to a fear of capsizing that I may have ‘accidentally’ instilled in my husband when we first met, he was not a fan of sailing. In fact, getting him aboard my boat was like pulling teeth and most times I sailed alone or with our daughter. Once she left for college I was single-handing and silently dreaming of something with more cruising capabilities. Sitting among the ‘death-row’ derelicts at the boatyard where I worked was an abandoned 32’ Cheoy Lee trawler. True, she was a powerboat, but if I ever expected to cruise my choices were a stinkpot or a divorce. She was sturdy, full displacement and single screw with a deep, concrete-ballasted keel and a massive rudder. But she needed serious work, the sort that strains wallets and relationships. For years she’d been in the back of my mind… until one fateful day. My husband had stopped by during lunch and we walked along the river’s edge. He looked over, noticing the Cheoy Lee, and said, “You know, if you didn’t have your sailboat we could fix that trawler up.”

In the end we didn’t wind up with that particular boat, though fate paired us up with a sister-ship. She needed work as well, though in theory she wasn’t supposed to be quite so much of a project. In theory. You know how it goes: that little drip is never truly little and each project reveals several more lurking unseen. Where you draw the line is another post entirely, but for the last two years we’ve remained on the hard, watching the ebb and flow of boats around us as we toil away. In that time I’ve come to realize that restoring a boat is much like writing a book. It starts with a dream, but that’s not enough to see it through. At the far end of the boatyard a collection of boats sit silent and forgotten. Long ago each had been someone’s pride and joy; now they remain as lonely reminders of abandoned dreams and failed aspirations, much like manuscripts in a desk drawer.

Be it a boat or a book, if you want to see it through you’re going to have to work at it. There’s an order to the plan of attack: first you make sure everything in the hull or the plot is structurally and mechanically sound, then build out from there. Nothing is ever as simple as it seems. Everything takes longer than you can ever anticipate. Both undertakings involve a significant investment of time and sanity, none of which you can ever hope to recover. You’ll be met with looks of confusion from those who don’t understand what you’re doing or why, and it’s not even worth trying to explain. Odds are neither the boat or the book will make any financial sense, but when it’s all said and done that’s not what really matters. People will see the end result with no idea of the perseverance it took to reach that point. It takes a certain ability to see beyond the work to the potential, to press on in the face of adversity even while all seems endless and hopeless, knowing in your heart that it will, indeed, be beautiful when it’s done.

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The right tool in the wrong hands…

“Oh, you mean the fellow with the belt sander,” came the reply on the other end of the phone.

A bad feeling crept up my spine. Belt sander? When you work in a boatyard, you often identify customers by certain traits, distinctions, or habits. The guy with the blue-eyed dog. The woman who always wears tie-dyed shirts. The dude with the long ponytail. But the fellow in question, the one with the belt sander, was at that time the owner of a boat I was coming to see. The boat I ultimately purchased. And the previously mentioned belt sander was, tragically, his preferred method of keeping the teak decks bright.

By the point my boat and I came together, the decks had been sanded, for the most part, clear down to the fasteners. In some cases, even the fasteners themselves had been sanded smooth. Which didn’t exactly aid in keeping the planks secure, or water out.

Not much holding this teak down, aside from the black goo, which was sticky in some places, dry and crumbly in others. Best we can determine, this was a result of the prior owner’s fondness for certain quick leak cures that ultimately could not cure the issues,  but temporarily hid the symptoms.

As a result, the decks suffered an abundance of leaks, seeping through the fiberglass beneath that teak, and into the coring.

The only saving grace was that the now saturated coring was also teak, sparing it from turning to a rotted mess. I knew this, and it was one of the reasons I was wanted this specific boat, despite the work I suspected she’d need. But it’s the work I couldn’t begin to imagine that bit me in the backside, to put it politely. Years of repeated freezing and thawing had taken their toll, delaminating a significant area of the bridge.  And the more things came apart, the more apparent the extent of the damage became. And the more we began to realize this wasn’t going to be a simple repair.

This was around the point my husband began grumbling under his breath about taking a saw to the boat, and I suspect he wasn’t referring to repairs. Either way, it was time to take some drastic steps. Pictured below is the first section of the ceiling/deck being cut away. Ultimately, two thirds of the bridge deck were removed.

Hmmm. Now, WHERE is that leak coming from?

openbridge

There was no turning back now.  We constructed a new core, consisting of three layers of 1/4″ marine ply, laminated over a mold to duplicate the original camber.

It was easier to work on ground level, so we did this in the garage, then trucked the whole thing, mold and all, to the boat, then had it forklifted to a support set to bridge height.

At this point, folks around the yard were speculating that we were building a new cockpit enclosure. Not quite. But the structure supported the new core and allowed us to ease it into the space between the outer sides of the bridge, secure it, then laminate new ‘ribs’ into place. The screws you see were used to temporarily secure each layer as the epoxy cured.

Then the whole the whole area was glassed over with glass cloth and yet more epoxy.

And then it was time to tackle things from above, in this case with three layers of biaxial fiberglass/mat cloth, laid up with epoxy resin.

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We’d saved the ‘skin’ of the rear contours of the bridge so we could more easily duplicate the original contours, and you can see that in the left side of the picture.

Next step, one more layer of biaxial, covering the entire bridge from end to end. Yes, it might fall along the range of overkill, but I can confidently tell you at this point the bridge is now rock solid, leak, (and possibly even bullet) proof. Anything worth doing is worth doing right.

As for those hole running along the sides of the bridge, I had cut access so I could pour in epoxy, filling the gap between the inner and outer walls of the bridge where it meets the deck — which was probably already completely sealed in previous steps, but then again, if you’re going to go with the overkill approach, you might as well go all out.  It was an interesting process involving a funnel and section of hose, but sorry, no pics. I saved the cutouts, which were glassed back in place and faired out.

Today’s task will be the first barrier coats, and then topside paint and non-skid. It’s been one hell of a long, itchy, sticky road to reach this point, and in the end we’ll have a deck that looks like any other normal deck, which, I suppose, is a good thing. And lest anyone think the deck is the only thing we’ve been working on — the engine room, steering, and countless other mechanicals have been getting a complete overhaul as well.

As spring rolls around, we’re drawing closer to actually being afloat once again. Throughout the Sandy-battered boatyards, there’s a sense of optimism as things gradually return to some level of normal. Some boats are gone forever, hauled away to salvage yards, while some new (and new-old) boat have taken their place. Other boats have been professionally repaired and you can’t even tell what they’d been through. Some owners bought their storm damaged boats, or someone else’s boat, back from the insurance companies, and they’re learning the fine art of DIY fiberglass repair. Yet other boats escaped unscathed, and their owners are happily prepping for launch…including one merry fellow I passed the other day, blissfully sanding away at the teak decks on his boat.

“Yeah, they leak a bit,” he explained, “but all decks do. And they look so nice after a fresh sanding.”

 

Transmission, transformed…

From this…
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to this…
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followed by some heavy duty cleaning…
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disassembly…
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soaking, cleaning, and, for some areas, sandblasting, (other parts included)…

bridge0313 006

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followed by new seals, bearings, and very careful reassembly, and a few coats of primer…
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and finally a nice coat or three of classic Ford red…
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No more rusty, oily, leaky tranny. The transmission is all set to go back into the engine room, along with new motor mounts, hoses, lines, belts, filters, and more. More leaks banished, and best of all, the engine room will SPARKLE!

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Let’s call these the ‘before’ pictures…

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sort 037above, alarm sending for temp

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Gauge sending unit for temp…

It may not look like much right now…

but three layers of biaxial fiberglass/mat cloth, laid up with epoxy resin, is truly a thing of beauty.

bridge 003

bridge 031

Everything is level and smooth, flush and even.  Next step, one more layer of biaxial, covering the entire bridge from end to end. Yes, it might fall along the range of overkill, but once I’m done this deck should be reasonably resistant to leaks, as well as missiles and/or the zombie apocolypse. Anything worth doing is worth doing right.

As for those hole running along the sides of the bridge, I’ve cut access so I could pour in epoxy, filling the gap between the inner and outer walls of the bridge where it meets the deck — which was probably already completely sealed in previous steps, but then again, if you’re going to go with the overkill approach, you might as well go all out.  It was an interesting process involving a funnel and section of hose, but sorry, no pics. Whe I’ve saved the cutouts, which will be glassed back in place and faired out when all is done.

Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the boat, the new rudder bearing is securely in place. Progress moves forward.

bridge 019

bridge 025

I know I haven’t been posting much these days. I’ve been a bit busy, between hurricane damage to the house, the marina where the boat is, and the marina where I’m working. But rest assured, work aboard the boat still continues, and I still continue to write.  Something has to give, and these days it seems it’s my online time….along with my sanity. But that’s another topic.

Looking a bit more ship-shape…

I know. Technically, she doesn’t look much different than she has for far too long,  at least from this angle.  But inside is a different story altogether as things all come together.

WE HAVE RIBS!

And here’s where the new overhead joins with the original section.

Two layers of double-width ‘ribs’ are laminated over an original rib and a new single rib to give maximum strength. The screws in the photos are temporary clamps; we’ll remove them and fill the holes with thickened epoxy, and the bolts hanging down are attached to 2×4″ ‘guides’ on the bridge to keep everything aligned as the epoxy set. Next: hardware out and layers of glass cloth go up, then it’s topsides to glass from above.

And finally, the aftermath of the weekend. This is our cockpit work area by day’s end. I usually just let everything in the Mix-n-Measure pots harden, then pop the set epoxy out, resulting in a clean, reusable container and a levitating chip brush.

At last…

Last week was a rough one that blindsided me, and home feels a lot emptier for it, but I’ve been dealing by lavishing attention onto the other four-footed residents and by keeping busy.  And keeping busy at this time of year means boat work, in this case in the form of the salon ceiling/bridge deck, which is at long last securely in place.

When last I left off, we’d been prepping out the areas where the edges would join. This included the forward edge of the remaining deck, the salon bulkheads and underside of the bridge.

Think of it like a layer cake – one where the upper and lower layers are fixed in place, and the inner layer (the new laminate core) would be *very* carefully slide in between. Only this layer measures approximately 8’ x 8’, weighs I can only imagine how much, has a camber to match the original curves and exact dimensions of the opening with only millimeters to spare and would be eased in by two people, (one of which is only 5’2”.) Add into this equation that every edge, inner and outer, upper  and lower, needed to be prepped in epoxy, and upon alignment, lagged into place before that epoxy set.  In other words, there was zero margin for error.

Below: The space we need to slip the core through. (Small scrap piece of correct thickness in place to test clearance.)

Below:  The Gazebo with the core on top — this made things much easier.

The key to pulling this off was tons of preparation and planning, repeated ‘dry-fit’ test runs, and everything coming together just right. We had everything in place. Resins, mixing pots and spreaders, fiberglass, brushes, hardware, tools, clamps, stands to support the wood, braces for alignment, etc. With the frame we’d used to originally laminate the wood set up on legs and looking like a gazebo in the cockpit, it supported the core at the right height and allowed us to slide it smoothly into the cabin.

Below: the view from the cockpit. This extends slightly further than the original bridge, which will provide more space above and more protection to the cockpit door below.

Once inside, we angled it down, braced it, wet out all areas that would meet with West System epoxy. We eased strips of pre-cut chop strand mat up from beneath where they would extend down, and smoothed the upper halves of these strips onto the top edges of the core.

Next,  we quickly spread West, thickened to a peanut butter consistency with 406 filler, along the salon bulkheads and bridge underside. At this point I wasn’t taking pictures, as we were racing to cover large areas and get everything in place before the epoxy began to cure. That, and were I to pick up my camera it would likely still be covered in resin. Once everything was wetted out the core was raised into final position and screws went in to set it into position, joining it to the leading edge with clamps, the bridge, and temporary 2’x4’s shimmed and angled to match the final alignment.

And there you have it. Next round, screws out and we’ll be laminating ribs in. After that, we’ll re-glass the underside, then go above, fill all the screw holes with epoxy, and glass the bridge deck.

Bonding with the boat…

Technically, not just with, but actually bonding the boat.  When she was first constructed, the bridge was set down after the salon was completed. Seems logical and makes sense.  However, once we’d removed the saturated salon overhead/bridge deck coring, all that held those regions together was a small bit of filler, much of which had separated.  Needless to say, once water found its way in, it was easy to see why this was yet another source of leaks over the years.

Both areas are quite solid and strong, but there is little holding them together. Here’s a closer look at particularly bad spot.

 

Being that this particular joint is the same location where the new core will rejoin the cabin, some reinforcement were in order. We prepped the area, and yesterday I first wet it out with some West System, then filled and faired all gaps and voids. I’d cut strips of fiberglass mat and laid them over these areas, creating a smooth bond between the salon and bridge.  Today, a bit of wet-sanding before the epoxy fully cures, and I’m going to mold in a small ledge in either forward corner to give the new core that much more to bond against when it goes in.

This small but critical step may not look like much, in fact once the glass was wetted out it’s almost impossible to see, but this represents a key turning point. This round of destruction has rounded the bend. Things are now going back together. This coming weekend, with some willing volunteers on hand to assist, the cabin should once again be solid and bonded on all corners. It will take a few more weeks before everything is structurally reinforced and glassed into place, but we’re getting there.

And once that’s done, THEN we can focus on removing and resealing the salon windows as well as (first) replacing all the damaged wood covering the salon interior bulkheads. Fortunately that is a 1/8″ laminate, so that shouldn’t hit the budget too hard, and with that done, she’ll start to look the way she should… on the inside, at least!

The weather’s looking great for the weekend, so the plans are to pack a cooler with some nice steaks, and once the main work is done we’ll be firing up one of the grills the boatyard has by the river’s edge. It’ll definitely be a celebration, and one thing that makes boat work that much nicer is a bit of fine dining. Hmmm. Maybe I should pack a laundry bag… but I wouldn’t want to scare anyone.

Progress???

Sometimes it seems that going forward requires several steps backwards, and that’s where we stand at the moment. After a long winter’s break, assured that the temperatures had now warmed enough to proceed with epoxy resin, (and equally as assured that the weather would immediately go to hell the minute we began,) we set forth to tackle the salon overhead. But a fresh perspective made us realize this might be more effectively accomplished if we could tilt the new overhead core down inside the salon, prep the areas where it would rejoin the salon bulkheads/base of the bridge, then raise it in place. If this doesn’t explain what we have in mind, don’t worry. All will be revealed in the coming weeks. But it suffices to say that there was one obstacle to this plan: the inner frames of the salon windows. The VERY leaky salon windows, the same windows I’ve been vowing to remove and re-bed before the boat leaves the shed, so…you guessed it. We were going to do it anyhow, so why not now?

I’ll tell you, that’s easier said than done.  These windows are set in teak frames, both inside the cabin and out, and even if the previous owner didn’t have a fixation with excessive though ineffective amounts of exceedingly tenacious caulk, these frames required first excavating the fasteners from beneath teak plugs and *very carefully* separating the teak frame from the boat by delicately hammering heated putty knives into the hardened black goo, (5200?) That then revealed yet more screws, also buried beneath copious amounts of caulking, and these screws secured the inner frames from the outside. From there it’s another round of putty knife/heatgun/hammer to remove the inner side. This stretched over two cold, damp, rainy days while we worked by the glow of droplights and the electric heater.

Below: First round of screws removed, commence prying.

Well, there’s your problem. (Below) Globs of caulking, silicone and bubblegum won’t keep the water out if not evenly applied. A single, narrow, clean bead of sealant would have been far more effective, not to mention kept me from cursing the misguided soul that made this mess to begin with.

No. More does NOT equal better if large areas are not evenly distributed.

The logic behind this baffles me.

Oh are my arms going to look good by the time this project is done.

Below, keeping the putty knives 2nd degree burn hot. It made caulking removal only a little less unbearable.

The galley. Isn’t it pretty?

Stay tuned. More fun (insanity) to follow!

Watching the thermometer…

One of the oddest but most vital tools we keep aboard Annabel Lee is a cheap little thermometer masking-taped up to the salon window. It’s nothing fancy, but presently, that little device and the readings it provides determine all else that occurs on and around the boat. And while we’ve had some unusually warm weather over the last few weeks, it hasn’t been consistent enough to risk mixing epoxy just yet, so we’re waiting a bit longer before launching into the next phase of boat work. However, from past experience I’ve come to be wary of the weather when it comes to any project that involves epoxy — in fact that was the subject of my  3/29/12 post at Write On The Water: Murphy was a Meteorologist

Meanwhile, Evacuation Route is taking shape quite nicely, and I’ve located some excellent contacts to guide me along with some fascinating and twisted research that plays into the plot, and brings me back to my 3/22/12 W.o.t.W. post regarding the inspirational mayhem the marine environment offers:  Thanks for the inspiration, but…

With minimal explanation I bring you…

…some of what we’ve been up to lately. These 2x4s will serve as guides to set the ceiling core to the correct height as we work from below.


They’re bolted to the ceiling up forward, and the layer of plywood duplicates the thickness of the fiberglass that will ultimately cover the core, set to match the original glass.

 

And here’s the core, down at ground level, measured and ready to be cut to proper size.

Once trimmed, we had the yard lift the core on it’s template frame up to supports in the cockpit, set to the proper height, so the entire core can be eased forward into place and dry-fitted, then epoxied and glassed into place.

And there we are, all lined up but out of weekend.



Holes…

I often refer to Annabel Lee as a collection of leaks in the shape of a boat, and a boat, by definition, is a hole in the water into which you throw money. So cutting large holes into that already leaky hole might be viewed as a questionable action, but that’s what we’ve gone and done.

We now have a well-ventilated salon to match our well-ventilated engine room.

This should make passing sodas up to the bridge easier.

I have emails to return, mountains of writing ahead, and a cabin full of itchiness.  This is just the start, but as which so much else in my life at the moment, there’s no turning back now.

Right now, I’m turning in. Much to do tomorrow. Too tired to think tonight.

Update: In case you’re wondering how we’ll close this big hole, that’s why we built this…

The Great Keel Ordeal…

The latest issue of  DIY Boat Owner is out, and page 45, 46 and 47 look awfully familiar, with stress on the ‘awful’.  Yes, that is Annabel Lee’s keel in those photos, but every time I see pictures of the repairs we’d done they still make me shudder… and itch! Recalling how we’d gone into that project with what could best be described as outright dread, I’m very pleased with the final results.  It’s satisfying as well to see the whole ordeal in print, where hopefully it will provide guidance to some other poor soul faced with the same unnerving task (not to mention it’s helping pay for some boat parts).  And reading this makes me particularly happy: “Like all issues of DIY, the Tools & Gear section is full of product reviews and the Projects section lays out several major renovations (read The Great Keel Ordeal — it’s great stuff).”

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The article itself can be found in the Summer 2010 issue of DIY Boat Owner Magazine, but more pics of the messy process from start to end can be found scattered around this blog.

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And looking back, it did turn out quite impressive in the end. We do nice work!

Puppies, pickups & powerboats…

Please phrase your answer in the form of a question.
Uh, yeah… what’s three things that all leak?

I’m way behind on my blog, but for all you lurkers (I know you’re out there) I figured I should throw in an update. This has been a busy summer, hectic for the most part, most currently with three things to blame.

First off, Loki. I will be posting some pictures as soon as I have a chance, but for those wondering, Loki is doing fabulous. His manners are wonderful, and aside from one paperback book in his first days, he fully understands the difference between toys and ‘not’ toys. The crate door hasn’t closed in weeks, there’s been no need. Puppy leaks are minor, and occur only in moments of nervous uncertainty. (He could care less about the vacuum, but sneezes scare him silly.) He and Rex, our younger boy, are fantastic playmates, perfectly matched and wonderfully agreeable with each other. And to our delight, he and Moxy, our dominant senior girl, snuggle together constantly, and Moxy’s normally serious disposition has turned sunny. Loki is such a fast learner, and he’s chosen Moxy as his mentor, looking to her and following her lead. The only down-side to that is seniority has given Moxy certain privileges, and over the years we’ve slightly spoiled Moxy, while Rex’s manners are much better. These days Moxy’s finding she has to clean up her act, while Rex is reveling in the whole “I’m the GOOD dog” status. And now that Loki figured out he has to sit first before meals or treats, he seems to have it in his mind if he sits whenever, he’ll be rewarded with a treat. He’ll look at us, sitting so perfectly, then glancing at the pantry. “Look. I’m sitting. Now you give me food. That’s how it works, right?”

Second. The old Dodge is OLD. I seriously believe Frank would’ve shipped the Dakota off to the glue factory a dozen times over if not for the fact that he knows how fond I am of the beast. I’d rather drive that 17 year old POS than the very beautiful, very tricked out, head-turning Mustang Convertible. I know that whole ‘cash for clunkers’ carrot tested his resolve, but these days there’s nothing out there we’d want to replace it with. This week’s leak involves a minor amount of power steering fluid. Hmmm.

Finally, I suppose I shouldn’t include Annabel Lee on the leak list, as it seems (knock on wood) that’s the one thing she isn’t doing, at the moment at least. All is dry and sound aboard, though we’re still perplexed by that sticking point on the steering. The suspect bolt was, indeed, binding, but not enough to cause that one spot to hang up as it does. There are a number of possibilities, from the simple to the ‘I don’t want to think about it’. This will call for further investigation, involving dissembling things further, which will wait till winter haul-out.

I knew it was possible…

…to repack the stuffing box WITHOUT sinking, despite Frank’s dire predictions.  In fact, I didn’t see it as nearly as dramatic as he did, then again, I suppose critical is in the eye of the beholder. Yes, we had repacked it earlier this spring, and it seems I was right, it was a bit too snug the first time, warmed up more than I liked, and the choice was made to switch from flax to synthetic with teflon. I was convince we could do this without short-hauling, and only a small bucket of water came through in the process. The bilge pump could have easily kept up, no sweat.

And now both rebuilt helm pumps and the ram have been swapped out for their new replacements, and all the hydraulics work perfectly, BUT the rudder still seems to hang up at one point, which, we suspect, is that bolt where the rudder sets into the skeg binding up.  At the time of the Great Keel Ordeal, nowhere around here had the correct style bolt for the purpose, and Frank voiced concern that the one we did use could cause problems. Only one way to be sure… high tide tomorrow we short haul.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed that’s all it is, because if it isn’t we have no idea what it could be, and we won’t be moving much for the rest of the summer.  Ironically, had we realized we’d be short-hauling, we could have repacked the stuffing box then, and spared Frank some anxiety.

It must be April…

We ache. Our fingers hurt. We’re exhausted and again questioning our sanity. The weather’s been miserably cold and uncooperative, though the cover is still up, so while things are cramped at least they’re dry.

We’re still at it. The main planks are all off the bridge, and the black goo beneath as well. Now it’s just the outer trim pieces. But it was so bitter and damp today, we called it quits a bit early, and we’ll start over tomorrow. And I’m bringing a space heater this time.

And the headliner’s down, revealing fascinating details of the construction closer photos will show more clearly. This boat is built like a tank. But that’s for tomorrow, if I’m not to beat to post it.

As I’ve been removing wood in the cabin, I planned to number it for reference when things go back together. Only I’ve found it was already numbered during construction 32 years ago. The amusing part is,as the boat was built in Hong Kong, it’s written in both English and Chinese.

Blogging under the influence…

Yeah, well. Let’s see. It’s that time of the year again. There’s a ladder in the back of my car, along with tools and stuff. Annabel Lee’s up on the hard. We’ve set time aside this week to winterize the boat. AS you may notice the lack of coherency, I’m just a bit tired and I’ve downed a bit of rum to mellow out after digging out a bunch of I’m not sure what where the keel is weeping. Trust me, my typing’s way worse, but I keep fixing my mistakes. Way more to say, in coming days I’ll be posting on the definition of insanity as it relates to owning a boat, and no, this doesn’t mean I’d change it, all the same looking back over the last year, I’ve gained some interesting insights I should share with those of you out there who bother to read.

Oh yeah, and my parents are in town, so right now there’s four large dogs running around here. Twice the dogs for the cats to torment. Did all you good readers click for the kitties today? <see below>.

Nap time. Later.

New pictures…

I’ve started putting pictures online of the recent voyage. More will follow, along with a rundown of the trip’s high (and not so high) points.

So much to do, so little time!
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