Category Archives: cheoy lee

It’s that time of year again…

The leaves are just starting to turn. The nights have begun to grow cooler, the days shorter, and my thoughts turn to…. yet more work aboard Annabel Lee. And strange as it seems, I’m looking forward to the prospect. Not the expense or the inevitable exhaustion, but actually doing things Frank and I spent the summer discussing, considering and planning. Things we couldn’t do last year, cocooned beneath the winter cover, and not afloat this summer, exposed to almost endless rain and occasional baking sun. No, this winter we’re biting the bullet and going with INDOOR shed storage. That way we’ll be sheltered enough to overhaul the decks, re-bed the salon windows, and several other random repairs Annabel Lee’s 32 years are necessitating. When temps get to low for resin-related work, we’ll shift our attention to the diesel, replacing motor mounts, the damper plate, heat exchangers, hoses, and whatever else calls for attention. There’ll be some carpentry work; we’ve decided to extend the bridge to cover a portion of the cockpit as well as provide a spot for cradling the dinghy. That, of course, will in turn require we also add the mast and steadying sail, providing means to lift said dinghy to the cradle via the boom. And while it’s out, I wouldn’t mind seeing if that forward center salon window could be changed to one that opens, allowing breezes to flow through the cabin. Oh, yeah, and while the windows are out, that would be the time to replace the water-damaged wood inside the salon. Am I forgetting anything? Most likely.

The forecast for the coming winter… busy, with extended stretches of sleep-deprivation through the weekends. There will be a chance of passing frustration before clearing to hopeful satisfaction.

Fun facts I’ve learned this spring…

People get very nervous and avoid you when they see you take a carbide-blade grinder, chisel and mallet to your boat’s keel. However, EVERYONE stops to talk when they see you laying up new glass and actually putting it back together. (Guess they figured we never could. Truth be told, we had our doubts at times.)

Murphy controls the weather. It will always be too hot/cold/wet to do the task at hand.

Inspiration comes when you’re too tired to write it all down.

The bridge is big. Really BIG, especially when it comes to covering it with a fitted canvas cover.

Old sewing machines are still the best choice for heavy work.

(Knew this one.) Fiberglass itches. Fiberglass gets everywhere. EVERYWHERE.

Cuts full of fiberglass dust don’t bleed, until you wash them.

The easiest way to get West resin out of your hair is to not get it in to start with. The next best option is to just cut it nice and short.

No, I wasn’t afraid to get prop wet! (Haha. Very funny.) I was just trying to keep bottom paint from getting on it.

One tiny little $2.35 brass fuel line fitting can stop a 20,000 lb. boat from moving.

A big shiny bronze prop attracts boaters like moths to a fly-zapper.

Everyone seems to LOVE our boat. She attracts admirers like a magnet, often looking to talk when we’re in the middle of some rushed work when we can’t really stop to talk. Still, I will admit the positive comments do feel great. But when I know we’re too busy to talk, I’ve taken to covering parts of the boat and tossing towels over the transom, (Are you from East Dennis? I used to live/have an aunt/cousin/evil twin who lives there/vacationed there 30 years ago/want to live there some day.)

June 2nd is NOT 2 WEEKS after April 19th!

High tide tomorrow: 6:06 AM EDT


Last weekend: The keel is reinforced and back together, the skeg fit perfectly, the rudder’s on, everything’s primed and painted, so we go to fire up the engine and…… crank crank crank crank…. Uhm…. no. Okay, so there’s diesel leaking below the fuel lifter. We kind of saw this coming and already have a new lifter and lines waiting in a box. Simple. Only the connector on the Racor fuel/water separator doesn’t match the one on the new fuel line. And it’s Memorial day, so no such luck finding anyone with an adapter. Order one Tuesday, get it Thursday only to find it’s wrong. Check every possible source, find everyone has the same wrong fitting. Seems it’s in a box marked 9040-6-6, but it’s really a 9020-6-6. Friday morning finally located one on a shelf down off the Parkway, picked it up. Hooked everything up Saturday morning, bled the lines, run a hose into the raw water intake, pressed the starter and hear happy sounds. Of course the yard wants to launch us last month, we understand that, still we’d like to get chance to polish and wax the hull and I still haven’t finished the canvas and there’s no lines at the dock. Fortunately some unknown kind soul blocked the travelift, and once the weekend kicks into gear the lot fills up with cars, so there would be no launching until Tuesday morning. PERFECT!!! We actually had time to do much of what we wanted to tie up loose ends and get things nice, or at least as nice as could be expected. I just have to fit out the last part of the canvas and I’m done with that as well.



Soooo tired! Too tired to go into detail, only that things finally seem to be moving forward. The KEEL is coming together in a satisfying way. For now, here’s a few pictures.

More details tomorrow, maybe.

More work tomorrow, definitely.

The week in review…

Too hot.
Even hotter.
Not so hot, but raining.
Raining again.
Supposed to rain, but actually perfect.
Supposed to be only slightly rainy, but VERY rainy, at least until the flood rose under the boat, we threw in the towel, and the rain slacked off.

Where to begin? It all runs together, but here’s a summary. This week Frank and I set out to fix the leak in the keel. Years ago a skeg was added. In the process a section of the keel was cut and reglassed, then drilled for the bolts securing the skeg. Unfortunately those bolts eventually allowed water to leak in, then weep out when the boat was hauled. This year we pulled the skeg to take a closer look. We found a gap in the repair which easily separated, revealing waterlogged cement ballast. Someone with more fiberglass experience was supposed to tackle this one, unfortunately when the time came he was too busy with other work and we were on our own. yay.

First off, the old cement (yes, cement) ballast had to come out. Frank got some strange looks as he used a sledge hammer and chisel to excavate the core of the now open keel, but eventually he reached clean, unsaturated ballast. The plan; re-core the keel with solid teak, reinforcing the bolt holes, and re glass the whole area from the bottom up, wrapping it completely rather than just the strip of glass, which clearly failed. Step one. Grind away some very thick fiberglass along the outside of the keel. More strange looks. It’s the end of April, but pushing past 90 degrees as we’re working in dust masks, covered in heavy clothes and glittering with sparkly, itchy fiberglass dust. It gets through the clothes anyways, and the best way to wash down is (shudder) unbearably cold showers. If there’s one thing I hate more than fiberglass dust, it’s cold showers.

The new core we constructed from three pieces of teak, laminated with West and layers of fiberglass reinforcement. Then the core was epoxied into place, the bolt holes re-drilled over sized. These holes were then filled with reinforced epoxy. After everything is re glassed, they’ll be re drilled to actual size, and there should be no way water can find a way in. And finally, we had everything set to go, but the rain started. Friday a girlfriend and I were going in to see Blue October at Webster Hall so we wrapped up early. Even getting soaked on the way in I had a great time, the concert was unbelievable; unfortunately I was so exhausted from the week and knowing I’d be up at six the next morning to tackle the scariest step yet on the keel repair, I wasn’t in the best frame of mind. Still, Blue October is amazing live, and they performed nearly every one of my favorite songs. I wished I could have enjoyed it more.

I was up bright and early the next morning, despite getting home at 1:30 a.m., and Frank said “Go back to bed, it’s raining.” And so it was. Weather claimed the day would be a washout. So I set about prep for the canvas work, (another fun project, but far less itchy). By ten it wasn’t really raining, but no sense in getting started, it’s supposed to rain all day. This was probably just a break. By mid-day that break had turned to patches of blue, and we loaded the car. We plan out the whole process, figuring each layer of glass, even do some test work. The trick to fiberglassing a complex shape while fighting gravity, we’re learning by trial and error, involves letting the resin start to kick, then laying up a layer and working in fresh resin, rinse and repeat. It’s that whole ‘wait till it kicks’ part that takes the time and patience, and now it’s too late in the day. But tomorrow isn’t supposed to rain nearly as much as today, so maybe we could pull this off.

Sunday dawned gray and gloomy, but dry and better than Saturday began. On the way over it starts to mist. We figure we can still work, so long as things stay dry underneath, so we set up a tarp tent between the boat and the Mars Rover. It’s raining now, but we’re still dry where we’re working so we forge ahead. We’re all set up, the glass mat measured and cut, and the minute I mix that first batch of resin the rain turns to torrential downpour. The island of dry beneath the boat flooded and we had to throw in the towel. Of course, no sooner than we load the car and break down the tent the rain slacked, but now there’s a small lake under the boat. *&#%@!

It’s supposed to pour for the next two days. Just f’n great. Grrrr. Stay tuned for the next round.

As promised…

Boat news. So, the main cover is off at last. However, with a multitude of holes through the bridge at the moment, it must be kept dry.

So let’s see. First off, the bridge is all cleaned up.

But it hit nearly 80 yesterday, and under the main cover, with no air circulating, it was suffocating and impossible to sand. So we pulled the cover. Now we’ll start opening up the holes where water came in.

Time to dry things out, above and below. Interesting thing is how the teak plank coring can be seen from below. 4″ wide, 1/2″ thick teak planks. Fortunate thing this boat was cored throughout with solid teak, something otherwise unheard of, but 32 years later, all this coring, though damp in places, is solid. This may take several weeks, and while we plan to launch in roughly two weeks, I’d prefer not see Annabel Lee motoring around sporting a plastic tarp. So today I ordered oodles of goodies from, a hardware store for everything canvas related. Tools, threads, fasteners, canvas, some nifty attachments for my two Singers, ages 46 and 79. Don’t kid yourself, old sewing machines are amazing. These modern, computerized plastic toys can’t compare to these ancient chunks of iron. They can sew through canvas, leather, misplaced fingers, you name it. Anyhow, I’ll be counting the days till this package arrives, and then sewing away furiously to make a nice tailored bridge and cockpit cover. And covers for the windows, to make things look even prettier, as well as keep people from peaking in and wondering ‘what the hell are they doing inside this boat?’


The bridge deck… It begins.

There are certain things that go hand in hand with owning a 32 year old boat. A certain sense of adventure, I suppose. Optimism is helpful as well. Determination.Perseverance.I’m sure anyone with an old boat has their share of stories, and please, I’d love to hear them. Pictures are an added bonus. If you’ve been there and done that, I and all those lurkers (yes, I know you’re out there!) who visit my niche on the web would appreciate knowing how you took on your specific projects. What obstacles did you encounter, how did you overcome them, what lessons did you learn? In sharing war stories, perhaps in the end we can save the next soul some misery. Which is why I’ve chosen to document the various endeavors we undertake aboard Annabel Lee.

And so another phase of work begins. Yet again our old Sable Wagon (AKA the Mars Rover) is earning its keep, this time bringing home sections of the bridge decking. But why is the decking being removed from the boat,you ask. (For bigger, higher resolution, and therefore scarier pictures, click here.)


First, let’s roll the clock back  to last summer. There’s our bridge. Look closely, see all the missing plugs over screws fastening it down. From what I’d been told, the former owner was very fond of his power sander. Evidence is all over the boat, where teak has been sanded clear down to the fasteners in many places. What had once been 1/2″ thick is now down to 1/4″ or less.


The sad fact is the decks look dismal from above,  and from below… well… here’s a few thousand words in photo form.


Leaks, leaks, and more leaks. Of course, this was aggravated by one or more run-ins of deck bedding versus hydraulic steering fluid.  We’re only too aware that the upper helm had more than once leaked, and in lowest spots of the bridge, (made even lower by years of zealous oversanding) the fluid ate through the bedding, through the bedding around the screws, and eventually, well,  see above and below.


Also, notice what resembles a hole concealed beneath the headliner. That’s just what it is. A nice big hole, where the cables run up to the radar mast. You can see the mast in the photo from last summer. The bedding around that mast had long since failed, and the hole and the leaks it created are one of the reasons we’ll be replacing that mast. We plan to set up a mast with a steadying sail, and the radar will be set on that mast, with all cables route properly as not to lead water into the cabin. But that’s another project.


Some plugs have managed to stay, but some with the aid of a pick they can be persuaded out. The bronze screws beneath, on the other hand…


…are another story. Some come agreeably. Some snap at the head. Some strip out. They’re almost like machine screws, not very long, and blunt-tipped, and they go only so deep into the very very thick fiberglass beneath. But here and there, some have been replaced with much longer stainless wood screws, and these go further, down into the teak coring beneath the glass. There is, in places, some delamination, but far as we can tell it seems very slight. I’m sure given more time it would have progressed.

000deck4And so here’s where we stand. The planks are coming up in reasonable order. The fiberglass subdecking will need to be cleaned, any delamination addressed, all screw holes (hundreds) drilled out and epoxied closed. And then, well, that’s to be determined. PlanA. My hope is we can salvage the original decking, I’ve seen it done, by epoxying it down to sheets of marine plywood, and refastening that to the subdecking. That’s how they do teak decking these days on new builds. No screws. Of course we’ll have to re-plug all the screw-holes in the teak, so in the end it would look identical to the original decking. It depends on how easily I can clean down the old bedding to prep the wood for epoxy.  Plan B. Frank’s looking into salvaged teak, which would be cut to size and epoxied down in the same manor as Plan A. Plan C. New teak. Less labor than A or B, more $$$s. Plan D. Flexi-teak or some simular product, but again, more $$$s.

One final note as we forge ahead. This is just the bridge. Eventually the cockpit, forward and side decks will all require the same attention.

Are you pondering what I’m pondering?

1977 to 2009.  32 years of Annabel Lee’s maintenance log, transcribed to computer. Over three decades of oil changes, injectors drained, impellers changed, heat exchangers cleaned, zincs replaced, stuffing box repackings, countless filters, and other standard maintenance. Then the not so day-to-day, the Racor fuel filter installed (2/85),  a new water heater (7/88), rebuilt alternator,(7/95), oil cooler replaced (6/97), and a new propeller (4/03).  There’s the major changes and upgrades, like enlarging the rudder (4/85) new radar and gps (7/98) and a new windlass (8/98), just to name a few.  And then there’s the curious, head-scratching, why-did-they-do-(or need to do)- that-stuff, like the replacement cutlass bearing caulked in place with 5200 (why?) (11/97) and the Morse dual lever (WHY??) helm controls (8/98).

The world may never know.