Friday, August 30, 2013

A hunk of metal

The propeller on Kintala is a chunk of solid metal; no moving parts. "How hard can it be to get another
one", you ask? Ah Grasshopper, grab a coldie to wash this one down.

So the propeller guru called the shop guru who called us. The propeller guru had our order for a new propeller and was pretty sure we had messed up somewhere. In a display of customer service kind of astounding given my experience in the marine industry, he was reluctant to spend our money for us until the shop guru checked it out. So the shop guru called us and started asking questions. As it turns out we had absolutely messed up ... by ordering the propeller listed in the Tartan spec sheet! What was I thinking?

In an effort to sort out the confusion the shop guru asked that we send him some pictures of the failing hunk of metal that had been our old prop. We were deep into a discussion about Walter V-drives and Hurth Transmissions, blowed up drive trains and shaft alignments, when the conversation took a strange turn. Did we want an "elephant ear" prop or a "sailor" prop? I, being the neophyte boat propeller buyer / installer that I am, had absolutely no clue what we were talking about. Would that be an African elephant ear as opposed to an Asian one? And, given that it is a propeller for a sailboat, what else would it be but a "sailor" prop? Is there a non-sailor propeller intended for use on sailboats out there somewhere? While this bit of strangeness buzzed over our cellphone connection the pictures showed up in his email.

"What kind of propeller is that? I've never seen one that looked like that before, is it a European prop?"

European prop? There are European elephants I never heard about? This boat has never been out of American waters, where would it find a European prop? It also seems that European props go on metric shafts, which would be a huge puzzle. I may be a sailboat propeller neophyte but I do know how to read a micrometer. When I replaced the shaft coupler to the V-drive the shaft measured 1 inch, the size of the coupler I ordered and installed. Unless Kintala has a shaft sized US on one end and metric on another ... (so paranoid am I of this boat that I actually put a mic to the the prop end, it was an inch). If it is a European prop it is tapered for a metric shaft. There should be no way to jam a metric taper on a US shaft except ... might that explain why it took a 7 ton puller to get that thing off? Probably not since the old prop has 16 X 12 X 1 clearly stamped into it. More to the point, if the East Coast sailboat repair guru hasn't a clue as to what has been hanging on the end of my prop shaft, what chance is there I have have a clue?

What I do know is that no one seems to know exactly what is going on with the working end of our drive train. Instead of a nice shiny new propeller, when Kintala gets east she will be met by various puzzled gurus. Instead of going in the water she will hang in the hoist until the gurus are puzzled no longer. Then they will help us spend our money and order the correct thing ... or things ... or multiple things (insert you favorite mechanic's nightmare here) needed to make our Tartan safe for blue water.

All I needed was a new prop. How hard could that be?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The True Cost of Cruising

Two Daughters and five grand kids . . . today was the day we said the rest of the hard good-byes. I was doing okay right through the day, playing, reading books, explaining to the two oldest girls why we were staying at a marina they had never visited and then explaining about travel lifts and trucks. But at the end of the day, just when it looked like I might hold it together the youngest, with no clue what he was about to do to my heart, crawled to my feet, held his arms up to be lifted, then tucked his face into my shoulder . . . 

There is no explanation for the wanderer's soul. There is no cure for wanderlust. I have been unhappy being in one place since (so I am told anyway) my first day of first grade. Less than an hour of being penned in one room and I had had enough. The twelve years that followed, all in the same school district, were pure misery. It showed in my grades, in my list of detentions, in the fights and the brushes with police. I was that kid none of the other kids were allowed to hang out with. Quite literally, they let me out after my Senior year because no one wanted to see me there again.

The two years of technical school were a slight improvement; partly because I was the kid right out of high school in a class mostly made up of people recently out of the jungles of 'Nam. They were a tough lot, several more than a little crazy, many of whom took a liking to the combative kid who (I now suspect) reminded them of themselves before someone started shooting at them. It also helped that only half our day was spent in a classroom; the other half we spent out in the shop. Still penned in, but better than a desk. To this day, no one knows how often I dreamed of just walking away from that place and how close I came to doing it . . . the future I hoped to share with Deb being the only thing that kept me going back.

They let us "graduate" a few weeks early to fill jobs rebuilding B-52s. Deb and I headed west and never looked back. We spent 4 years in one place, 14 in another, 2 in a third, then landed in St. Louis. But we wandered constantly: me as a pilot, both of us as bikers. And no place ever felt like a "home," just a town with a job.

Now, finally, we are on the verge of heading off again; this time for a wanderer's dream come true. No place is home, but anywhere can be our front yard. The challenge of new skills to learn, the lure of new places to see, experiencing life in a way unsuspected just six years ago, and no one can tell us we have to "stay here and do this." But the dream has a price just shy of being too high . . . a price no one but a wanderer would even think about paying.

We like to say that there is no choice, that the wanderer wouldn't be the person he or she is if they could stop. Perhaps that is true. We are going, after all. But I like to think that the price will be a fair one. That in the end the people we love who don't wander with us love us anyway; that they share our adventures and find a larger view of the world. That, in the end, the stories of our lives will be full, even if the main characters in our hearts are not written into every page.

For that is the true cost of cruising.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Cross one more off

As the keeper of the maintenance list now that Tim refuses to look at it, I'm doing a pretty dismal job. After
closing out the house I really found it hard to get too interested in more honey-do stuff. But after a pretty easy morning of finishing up the fitting of the wind vane tower, we were feeling rather guilty about not doing anything so we decided to tackle the holding tank monitoring system install.

We decided on a SCAD single tank monitoring system because it has an external sensor that can go on our plastic holding tank without having to drill any holes or fit any fittings. It's a clean, simple system and we like clean and simple. Unfortunately, Tartan doesn't always agree and continually tries to make access as difficult as possible for things like wires. It took us 4 hours and a completely torn apart interior, but we got it done and we're pretty happy with it. I did hold my nose and open the access panel on the top of the tank so I could see if the Empty on the panel agreed with my eyes. This holding tank was actually a water tank at one point that someone converted to a holding tank, so the pumpout fitting is about 2" short of the bottom and there is always some sludge there. It means that for us our 24 gallon tank actually only holds about 18 gallons so we will have to watch it pretty carefully in the early days of cruising till we see how it goes. At least now we'll have a monitor instead of having to disassemble the V-berth to get  at the access panel to take a look-see.

Nothing like having your mattress on your dining table...

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Mantus Muscle

Tim says it's big and ugly, but if it lets me sleep in peace while the wind blows and the tides rise, then I'm a happy camper.  Now if I can just talk him into 250 feet of chain...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Are you sure???

J.B. the Magic Man
That would be the words that came out of Tim's mouth as he was given the total from the welder. You see, he came to fix the crack in the port side spreader bracket and to repair the repair that Crowley's in Chicago made such a cluster out of. Now, keep in mind that this guy made a special trip to the boat from New Baden, IL, with a truck and portable Tig welder, to weld on our mast where it currently resides on stands at Tradewinds Marina. He looked at the job, rubbed his bearded chin for a moment, and then got to work. It was a thing of beauty to watch. He was quick, efficient, polite, and professional. Crowley's, on the other hand, had a guy right there, had the best (or rather supposedly the best) facilities in Chicago, and they still couldn't get it done. Crowley's charged us $858 to weld that bracket. Just want to be sure you got that. $858.00 green crinkly ones. So, it was with great trepidation that I sat on the deck with my feet on the first rungs of the ladder we use to climb to the boat these days, checkbook in one hand, pen in the other, waiting for the invoice total. I heard him mumble "six forty" while he was scribbling and I thought, "Ahhh that I can deal with. At least not another $858". I get ready to write the check when he turns to Tim and says "One eighty."  Tim's mouth hangs open, his eyes go blank, and for a moment he is speechless. For those of you who know him, this doesn't happen very often. "One eighty?  Are you sure?? Because this is the last chance you have to up it brother and then I'm going to take it." Never occurred to me for one minute that the six forty he was mumbling was the time he finished.

$180.00.  One hundred and eighty US dollars to fix a new crack, and repair someone else's screwup, all delivered right to our front door, or rather our companionway I should say. And we now have a professional weld on our mast instead of the freakishly embarrassing mess that was there before.

Look, Ma! No more Swiss Cheese!
I have one happy aircraft mechanic camper.

So if you need a difficult weld done, be sure to call

Marvin Spaeth Welding Service
321 W Missouri St.
New Baden, IL 62265
(618) 588-3596

And be sure to ask for J.B. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Random thoughts on a half day

Deb and I finished up the bottom paint around 12:30. Instead of taking on another project in the heat of the day we decided to give ourselves a bit of a break, grab some lunch, head into a nearby town for some ice cream, maybe even take in a movie. I haven't been off-site in more than a week. For an ex-airplane driver used to wandering around the country that is like being house bound. On my half day of leisure some thoughts come to mind ...

Hydrocoat "RED" isn't really red, it is more like a sandstone pink. And "BLACK" isn't really black, it's more like a dark chocolate brown. It looks okay, but not quite like I expected. The nearly three weeks of constant effort to get the bottom done seems like a lot. If pressed I might admit that Kintala is slightly more seaworthy than she was; after all the concrete void is now sealed. Supposedly the Chesapeake Bay water critters will find a poor purchase on the not-so-shiny new paint as well. Add that to the fact that the boat does look a far sight more "nautical" than she did - maybe the three weeks of effort were worth it after all. One thing is for sure; her good looking bottom makes the various dock scuffs on her flanks look much worse than they are. My operator's head tells me don't worry about it, there are surely more scuffs in our near future. My mechanic's heart says its time to break out the polish.

Putting paint on with a roller is a really cheesy way to do it. It doesn't seem too bad if one thinks of a boat as a house which, in a way, it is. But if one tends to think of a boat as a machine, like a car or an airplane or a motorcycle, then rolling on the paint definitely falls into a category of maintenance usually associated with trailer parks. There is probably no cost effective alternative. But I can't help but think that doing a better job of prepping and painting boat bottoms, using just some of the technology available with process and product, would eliminate all of the heartburn over "osmotic blistering". It isn't the fiberglass in the hulls, it isn't the water filled environment, it is just the low rent way we paint them causing the problems.

Kintala probably lost 0.1% of the speed she might have gained to the kamikaze bug corpses now embedded in her new paint. Some of them dove right into the leading edge of the roller which, I thought, was kind of rude. Most of them were corps bugs though, and so smashed into minute little specks that all but disappeared. (The spiders were another story.)

There is still a lot of stuff to do; prop, anchor locker, new anchor, wind vane, pull down the canvas, rig the boat - inside and out - for road travel, get the mast welded, sheaves, LEDs, SSB, VHF antenna, rigging repair and inspection. Then, someday, the boat will go back in the water and a bunch of this stuff has to get done the other way around.

I'm sure glad to be done for today though ... necesita el descanso.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Early mornings, late nights, and lots of progress

A short picture collection from today.

We moved the stand pads and finished the red coat.

After the red coat cured for a few hours we did the black coat. After it sits all night we'll move the stand pads and paint under them as well. The coverage of the black over the red was phenomenal. It continues to impress us.

I think she's looking pretty good, don't you?

Late nights...

Our dinner view from the clubhouse.

Monday, August 19, 2013

I loves me some Hydrocoat

I think I've mentioned this in a previous post, but I ran a Sherwin Williams aircraft paint distributorship
for 5 years back in the early 2000s. We sold a water-based paint, or rather we tried to sell a water-based paint because aircraft painters are a stuck-in-the-mud lot and are petrified to try anything new for fear it will upset the paint fairies and leave them with blushes or blisters and a corporate jet repaint bill of $250K. In addition, after painting with 2-part polyurethanes for decades, they found it impossible to believe that any water-based paint could stick as well as their urethanes or look as pretty. It became necessary for me to send out samples to painters just so they could try it.  I began to get phone calls with the words, "Damn! Don't get this stuff anywhere you don't want it, because it sticks so good you can't get it off!".  So when I found out that Pettit made a water-based paint, one I could used without fear of getting a tumor or turning into a deranged blithering idiot from exposure, I was immediately on board. Today we put on the first coat and I became an instant believer.

The instructions are detailed and clearly written and stress the fact that all bottom paint performance is dependent on the substrate prep, so pay attention to yours if you choose to use it. That being said, it's one of the few paints that can go directly over VC-17, which some previous owner had chosen to put between two layers of other paint of questionable compatibility, a fact that I'm fairly sure contributed to the large amount of paint blisters we had. Hydrocoat can be applied by sprayer, roller or brush and we chose the roller method, not having the facilities to spray and not having the time to brush. The paint rolled on smoothly and dried quickly on our warm day (84° and 68% humidity), but not the irritatingly fast dry of VC-17 which means that two people can share a tray and work at the same time without having to do the antics of VC-17 application to prevent it drying
before you get it on the bottom in the typical Midwest summer heat. There is very little odor, and what there is has a pleasant, clean smell. Need to scratch your nose? No problem. Just rinse your hands under the hose and the paint washes off.  Our blue tape line on the waterline pulled clean and sharp, although we didn't leave it on very long per some forum suggestion I had picked up along the way of researching the product.

We only have the first coat on and we'll update you once we get the black final coat on, but everything I see so far has me smiling big.

Yes, we were working around Tim's fiberglass repair which was still curing


Sand ...

There is sand falling out of what looks like a hole in the bottom of my boat. Sand? This cannot be a good thing.

I should have left well enough alone. The area around the keel joint had been ground out and sanded back to solid fiberglass; but the the bottom edge of that fiberglass was loose and there still appeared to be a minute trace of moisture. The mechanic in me was curious as to the origin of said moisture, so the rotary file went to tracing a track up from the loose edge. Just a couple of inches above the keel joint it plunged through into a void and thus appeared the flow of sand.

"This," I thought out loud, "cannot be a good thing."

Replacing the rotary file with a cutting disk I very carefully cut a square of very solid fiberglass aft, paralleling the keel joint. More sand flowed which was clearly a component of a block of material that filled the void between the flat top of the lead keel and the curve of the fiberglass hull; a void that was enclosed behind a skirt of fiberglass flared off the hull and overlapping the top of the keel. Mystery ... the top end of the block block felt like concrete. Could the sand really be deteriorating concrete? The chunk looked like concrete. When hit with a grinding disc it produced a small dust like cloud that smelled like concrete. There is certainly a lot of sand in concrete.

Concrete, in my Tartan?

An assembly of sailors gathered around the boat to gaze at the mystery. As they did I had already decided
two things. Number one was, as bad as this appeared at first, we were once again looking at a cosmetic repair. The keel bolts were fast, the hull unblemished and unbreached, and the keel still a solid block of lead holding up a boat. Number two was that this really was concrete, albeit cheap concete; more like the capping stuff put on the top of foundation wall (basically a mixture of limestone and sand). The assembled agreed though there was some debate as to the proper stuff to use to fill the void to facilitate the fiberglass repair. Some optioned a quick set concrete filler, others fiberglass mat. I've decided that West Marine epoxy filler will be the choice, a choice supported by an Internet friend to whom Deb sent some pictures, a friend who just happens to be an ex-aircraft mechanic and who is currently resupplying the cruising kitty by running a boat repair facility. (It is good to have friends in high places!)

So, though I added another day of work I didn't need to by opening up the void to see what the what, at least I know what the what is. Concrete ... apparently Tartan decided to fill this below-the-waterline void with something cheap and heavy. I wouldn't have thought the words "concrete" and a "Tartan" would go in the same sentence; but nothing in the marine industry surprises me anymore. My "higher end" boat builder poured a water soluble sand mix into a void below the water line. The void got breached, moisture oozed in, some of the limestone slowly melted away, and sand fell out the hole.

Fix it, fair it, clean it, paint it, throw it in the water. With just a bit of luck we will start putting color on the bottom tomorrow. Seeing Kintala with a clean, painted hull will go a long way to have me thinking we are actually pulling this off. Right now I'm just tired and sore, looking at another day of work and wondering when the "throw it in the water" day will arrive.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Hacking away at the dock lines

Warning: Cutting the dock lines chains may be more difficult than anticipated. All land-based enterprises will conspire to keep you land-based. By the time you leave you will be completely exasperated by the endless paper trail of cancellations, address changes, medical records issues, insurance issues, house sale and/or rental issues, survey issues, did I say insurance issues???

Take a yoga and/or meditation class a year before you leave to prepare yourself for this.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Un hombre cansado

Kintala came out of the water 20 days ago. It doesn't seem possible it has been that long, right up to putting my foot on the ladder and hauling my tired bones aboard at the end of the day. Then it seems like it has been twice that many. I'm not sure we have faced a crush of work like this one since moving to St. Louis. I'm told that's part of the price one pays for the privilege of making a home of a boat and living on the water.

Stripping the mast turned up two problems. The lower starboard spreader bracket is badly cracked and one of the running back stays has a broken strand. The welder is due later next week for the one, the other we will have to replace once we make the East coast. Neither seems much of an issue at the moment but I am going to be very careful with the rigging as it goes back up. I think the spreader bracket broke because a mount pin was too long, which allowed a bushing to drop free, making room for the pin to twist under a load from the spreader; a load high enough to crack the bracket. Not a big deal on Lake Carlyle; maybe a huge deal half way to far away. All the rigging is now neatly packed on a pallet and ready for the truck.

Work on the bottom paint slowed because, for reasons lost in the distant past, Kintala has a heavy coat
of VC17 on the aft half of the port hull. That stuff proved too much for our pair of little palm sanders and probably sent the older one whining into oblivion. So I am bringing a 5 inch orbital sander into the arena tomorrow. (By the way Warrior sandpaper SUCKS LEMONS. Get 3M or Gator paper with the heavy sticky backing paper ... you'll be glad you did!)

We did finish one project; that of changing the V-berth hanging locker into a shelved clothing cabinet. I'm not living out of a sea bag any longer, making Kintala feel just that much more like home. Odd how little things like that matter, but they do.

We have befriended (or been befriended by) our first cruising couple outside of the Internet. Nancy and David departed this very marina nearly 2 years ago in their Seaward 32 and now base their coastal cruising life at a marina in the Chesapeake. It just so happened that they are back in IL for some personal business and staying with the marina manager just as we started this last phase of The Retirement Project. We have shared several meals and spent evenings plying them with every kind of beginner question we can imagine. They, in return, have been everything one would think "cruising friends" can be. Indeed, so highly do they speak of their home base that Deb and I are probably going to have Kintala shipped there for splashing. It might even be that David and Nancy will be back to their boat by then and around for the big day. Amazing how things work out sometimes. Just having them around has made this whole thing seem just that little bit less insane. They have passed this way before and assure us we are not lost.

And so I am still un hombre contento ... with the hope that the work load eases when Kintala is floating once again. Then I can be un hombre que toma una siesta.

View from the clubhouse at Tradewinds Marina where we're staying.

Seems like every marina has their forlorn, forgotten hulls.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Mast unstepping pics

I was going to stick these pictures in the previous post but thought they deserved an honored place of their own. This shows you just how relieved we were that we didn't have a repeat of the stepping events of 2 years ago

There was a collective sigh of relief as the mast lay softly on the cradles.

Un hombre contento

With the exception of the surveyor, everyone who looks at Kintala's hull agrees; sand it, clean it, paint it, throw it in the water. That work is well underway and should be done by next week. (There is a lot of sanding, cleaning, and painting to do!) The mast lift was a thing of beauty and all 60+ feet of aluminum and rigging now lies content on saw horses awaiting disassembly. We did find one spreader bracket badly cracked and will try to get that welded before we go. If not, I'm sure the East coast marina can get it done when we get there. The prop will come off in a couple of hours to get overhauled. Most importantly Deb has made the move from the city to the boat and we are working side by side on her list of projects. (Remember, I threw my list away!)

I am a happy man.

At least 15 more days will pass before the truck arrives; my best guess is that finishing the bottom will take another 5. In descending order, and in various places, sanding the bottom is leaving exposed; light blue top coat, darker blue top coat, some grey something, a layer of what everyone claims is VC-17 (that is the brown layer) bondo, epoxy filler, gel coat, and fiberglass; the smoothed patchwork of color a vast improvement over what it looked like in the lift. Of course grinding away the obnoxious smile to a perfectly sound keel joint helped a lot. It is probably a bit insane to work this hard at what is mostly cosmetics. The only real repair is fairing in the keel joint. Other than that we could give the hull a once over with some scotchbright, roll on a couple of layers of magic antifouling paint, toss it in the water. The hull will be just as sound when we pull it in a year or two as it will be with all this work. But it is my boat. I can go a bit crazy making the bottom pretty if I want to.

There actually turned out to be a blister or two. Poking at them released a trace of moisture not even amounting to a drop. The pointy end struck hard maybe 2 mm deep. I’m not convinced the water wasn’t trapped between paint layers but I’ll give the surveyor the benefit of the doubt. And actually (hold tight, I’m going to try and be nice here) admit he might have had the barest hint of a point. I don’t know what the shop rates are at marinas, but if they are just half of what we paid for ye ‘ol jet; Kintala is going to leave Carlyle with a bottom job that would have cost way north of 5 grand in labor alone. I’ll admit, if I had to write a check that big for a couple of layers of bottom paint on a 42 foot boat, it would be an issue.

But the mast is down, work progresses, Deb is here, and even the weather is helping. This has been the coolest, most pleasant midwest summer any of us can remember. Just the thought of trying to do this in the blast furnace of last year could give a person the vapors.

I am a happy man.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Quiet workings

Deb is in the city for a last few days of closing out "the stuff" and helping Daughter Middle. She will be back home before the weekend. In the mean time work continues, not only on the hull and steering vane, but with planning and coordinating cranes and trucks and lifts and departures.

Tradewinds is a much quieter place during the week than is Boulder. Indeed, a whole day can go buy where I may see only one or two people ... some days none at all. The day starts, coffee gets made, breakfast is finished and the dishes done, the day's work is reviewed and begun. The gulls circle overhead; wasps buzz around checking on progress, the palm sander hums, dust is made, holes are drilled ... it is about as far from my life as a corporate pilot and American consumer living in a major city as can be imagined.

It is a temporary lull of course, a transition lifestyle of just a few weeks. By the end of the month the truck will arrive. Even if there is some work to complete once on the coast there will surely be more activity, more hustle, than there is here. We will be looking at big water, then be floating in big water, and a third way of living in as many months will start to unfold. But for now I can almost feel the old life fading away, the quiet workings in my head even more pronounced than those happening to the boat. Corporate America smacked me up-side the face but we were planning to walk away anyway. I still check the news to start my day, but the constant displays of world-wide lunacy seem distant. It is sad that so many people work so hard at doing as much harm as they can to themselves, others, and the world; but there is little that can be done about it; the goal is not to add to the chaos. They would probably hate me as much as they hate everyone else if they knew but - truth to tell - Kintala is likely so far below their RADAR as to be non-existent.

Part of the reason for moving onto a sailboat was to shift my view of the world; literally and figuritively. How big that shift might be was a curiosity; but I'm beginning to realize it will be more pronounced than I could have imagined. Wherever it is that we are going ... it will be much further away than I thought.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A cruiser's day on the hard.

After a rather touching and fun party at Boulder last night (see Deb's post) today started out as just another cruiser's day on the hard. I say that like I have any idea what a "cruiser's day on the hard" actually is; seeing as I haven't been cruising yet. But I read the blogs and hear the stories; bottom paint, repairs, upgrading equipment, replacing systems...and doing it all in an unfamiliar place. Kintla is getting the same kind of treatment though, to be truthful, Tradwinds isn't all that unfamiliar. We have some history here and Craig (manager of said Tradewinds) has done everything possible to aid our efforts to get going. (I'm kind of hoping this is a normal thing among marina managers, or at least among the ones we run across in the next few years.)

Then, leaving the clubhouse this morning I passed an ASA 101 class gathered around charts and books, prepping for their second day on the lake. The sudden rush of deja vu was intense and somehow two different times, separated by more than six years, become the same moment. My beginner self was sitting among the class, leaning over the unfamilar charts and trying to think like a sailor. Glancing up he took note of his future self deep into final preparations for departing land, maybe not a sailor yet but knowing enough sailor things to get started. And for just that moment it seemed clear that this was always going to happen, that this particular current in our life was simply too strong to avoid.

That thought changed the entire day's complexion, though soon my present self was shoulder deep in work once again. While I concentrated my efforts in the stern Deb puzzled over finding places below for the few things we still own; few compared to the collection of just a few weeks ago, that is. It still seems like a lot of stuff for 400 square feet of living space, but she was working some kind of magic and bag after bag dissapeared into Kintala without things leaking out the ports or bulging through the hatches.

Taking advantage of having another set of hands available to help fit wind vane parts too ungainly to handle alone seemed a good way to spend my day. Slow but steady progress was made and the transfer tube foward supports are cut, fitted, and temporarily bolted in place. Next will be fitting the tower and getting those supports cut, fitted, and temporarily bolted in place as well. When everything is temporarily bolted in place and it all looks right then, and only then, will everything be made permanent. And that may wait until the boat is back in the water and it can be verified that all is as it should be in refrence to the water line. We'll see, but for today we are pretty content with the progress made.

Or maybe we are just content to be at this place and doing this thing. Either way, tomorrow will be day 2 of living on a boat full time. I think I'll spend it sanding on the hull.


Last night we had the chance to take a break from boat projects for awhile and attend a party at Boulder, across the lake. We don't go back often just because it's 32 miles each way, but this was a special party I really wanted to attend, the Jimmy Buffet tailgate party at which there was a drink recipe contest and I was fairly sure I could win with my Awesome Piña Colada dessert smoothie. We arrived late because I was late getting to the lake from the city, and when we turned the corner around the clubhouse building to the pavilion, all of the Assembled shouted out welcomes and it was the beginning of a genuine Cheers evening. It is true that you sometimes want to go where everybody knows your name.

And without further ado, here is the...drumroll...winning recipe.

Awesome Piña Colada Smoothie

Make the recipe in multiples of these quantities:

1 container of Yoplait thick and creamy lemon yogurt
1 of the empty yogurt containers filled with milk
1 of the empty yogurt containers filled with coconut rum
1-1/2 to 2 cups of frozen pineapple tidbits, the unsweetened kind

Put it all in a blender, blend on low first to break up the pineapple, then on high till smooth and creamy.

You can use this recipe substituting strawberry yogurt, frozen whole unsweetened strawberries, and vanilla vodka, or peach yogurt frozen peach slices and peach schnapps, or lime yogurt frozen pineapple and premixed margarita mix. The possibilities are only limited by the yogurt favors. Enjoy responsibly.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Last Tango in St. Louis

I'm back at the house in the city for one last time. Tomorrow is an early morning go for the second half of the contract flight started on Monday. By Saturday evening the boat will be my only "home address". Deb will be there Saturday but has to return to the city for the final act of renting out the house. She will spend a last couple of days helping Daughter Middle do some work on her house before joining me late next week. Then, finally, both of us will have turned 6 years of part-time living on our boat(s) into our full time occupation.

OK so this hole might sink the boat
It will not be "last good-byes", not yet. There are still several weeks of work to do before the boat goes on the truck. While I am actually making a little progress on the steering vane install, most of the effort for the next two weeks will focus on the hull bottom. There are a couple of items that need addressed; what look like pretty minor things to me but the marine industry types like to get goofy about. The marine industry type being, in this case, yet another surveyor. (New insurance, another survey).

Next step is to glass in this transfer tube and add the support brackets

His email referred to “global blisters indicating uncured resins”, “disbonding”, “hull flex and cracking”, “hydraulic migration”, and “the biggest smile I have ever seen”. Sounds terrible, right? But "the biggest smile I have ever seen" is simply "disbonding" bondo. Tartan used pounds of it fairing in the keel. Anyone who thinks bondo has anything to do with structure needs to go back to High School auto-body class. "Hull flex and cracking" is a minor crack in more bondo used to fill where the prop shaft support exits the hull. (Apparently telling the difference between fiberglass and bondo is a highly technical endeavor requiring something marine surveyors don't own; eyes maybe?) "Hydraulic migration" is, well, I don't know what it is. I know what it means but I have no clue what it has to do with our hull. There are no soft spots in it so I'm not sure where the "hydraulic" is supposed to be "migrating" too. I think I'm supposed to be impressed by the technical sounding words except, well, I've been an aircraft technician for four decades. We have all kinds of technical sounding words to throw around as well; hammer, bucking bar, screwdriver, duct tape, load cells, bend radius, edge distance ... are you impressed? Me neither.

As for the “global blisters indicating uncured resins”? It looks to me like surface defects and years of poorly applied bottom paint. Uncured resins? This hull is thirty years old and "uncured resins" show up in the last two years floating in fresh water? It is going to take some extra work to fix the screwed up paint jobs; two weeks maybe instead of the normal four days. There will be some research to find out about base coats and compatibility, and a fair amount of effort, but it falls far short of being "an issue".

I was a little bent out of shape at the survey at first; after all this is the second one I've had and the second one I'm having "issues" with. But now? Ah well, this is apparently what "surveyors" do in the marine industry, an industry that hasn't impressed me very much anyway. In my opinion this whole "blistering" thing has been mostly a tempest in a teapot and a way to generate some easy billing hours for boat yards. Sure there can be problems with composite materials; but you have to be seriously incompetent to lay one up so poorly that uncured resins cause hydraulic migration leading to disbonding, hull flex, cracking and (I suppose) eventual sinking. That kind of thing doesn't show up 30 years later.

I spent my entire professional career betting my life on being right about mechanical and technical things. (That's what happens when you fix airplanes and then fly them.) And I know a little bit about composite structures and fiberglass. Kintala's hull "issues" are largly cosmetic. She is not about to flex, disbond herself, or sink. And that is all I care about.

But I hope I never have to pay another dime to a marine surveyor.