Monday, September 26, 2016

Light Show

We rented a car to go visit good friends in Punta Gorda this weekend (thanks again for the respite Dave and Dee Dee!), and on the way back we stopped at the Siesta Key Drum Circle which is held every Sunday night on the beach there. It's one of our favorite things to do. Last night, a storm built to the southeast of us during the time we were at the circle. By the end of the evening, the lightning show was so dramatic that I took this video. It was a wonderful merging of the power of nature and the primal notes of the drums. Enjoy!

Friday, September 23, 2016

K2R and Teak Stain Removal

Even though I mentioned K2R in a previous post, I thought it deserved a post of its own. I can't emphasize how nasty the diesel stain on our teak and holly floor was before I started this project. This photo doesn't do it justice.

The wood was dark, the white holly strips black. After sanding, it was marginally better, but the stain was still one of those where you could ignore how good the rest of the floor looked just because that stain looked so bad. The diesel had been soaking the wood for at least 10 or 15 years. We're not sure exactly how long since it was at least two owners previous to us that the tank leaked.  After researching how to remove oil based stains on teak I happened on a forum about K2R. I remember my parents using it to remove stains from dry-cleaned clothes when I was little, but teak? It was worth a try, since the alternative was pulling up that section of plywood and replacing it. I'm not sure even that would have worked because the sub-floor marine plywood base under the teak and holly plywood was also soaked and might have seeped into the new plywood.

As I mentioned in the previous post, it takes multiple applications to remove diesel from soaked wood. You apply, it lifts what can be reached, you let it sit and the fuel from the underlayment seeps up into the teak and holly, you apply again. I've now used two and a half cans over a week's time, and it's pretty close to being done seeping. You can do one application every 30 minutes or so by the time you apply, let dry, sweep it up, rinse it off, let it dry. It takes a lot for a marine product to impress me, but color me impressed...and not stained. Now I can hardly wait to get the finish on!

Looking forward to aft
Looking aft to forward

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Pretty Progress Photos

I had a few folks ask for progress photos as I got the finish on the floor. I now have the 5 bilge hatches done so I thought I'd post the photos of them. The first batch are how they look outside in the sun as the were curing, the last one is how they look in the dark boat. Where we're sitting, the sun goes behind a building about 3:00 in the afternoon so it's pretty dark inside the boat. Again, we're using the Circa 1850 from Jamestown Distributors in a satin finish, 7 coats. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Longing to return...

Leonardo da Vinci once said...

For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.”

Leonardo da Vinci died 384 years before the Write Brothers' first flight, so one wonders how he gained such a clear understanding of a pilot's heart. Somehow the modern world has turned flying into such a chore that most people cringe at the idea of having to go to the airport. But for many of us who made a living in the sky and those whose life defining hobby is flying, Mr. da Vinci was spot on. Still, things change. For many who do (or did) make a living dancing with clouds the constant scrutiny of drug tests, medical exams, recurrent training, TSA requirements, check points, and bag searches, coupled with deteriorating schedules, pay, and benefits (a reality not exclusive to the aviation industry) make it a good job from which to be retired.

Many "retired" pilots keep a pathway to the sky open with small, sport type, airplanes lovingly kept in a hanger at a nearby airport. For true “pelicans” those are often sailplanes, tail-draggers, acro-birds, bi-planes, or antiques. But tin can Cessna, Piper, or Beech products will do just as well, and Sunday mornings will find a gaggle of them doing touch-n-goes at the local airport or heading off for the $100 hamburger, content airplane drivers at the helm, returning to the sky that forms so much of their self-image.

I miss that realm. No low flying machine will pass near Kintala without me taking note. Most of the time I can still tell make and model at a glance. Sometimes the sound of the engine is all the identification needed. It has been a long time since I slipped a Cub to a perfect three-point on grass, or rode the ILS right down to minimums on a dark and stormy night, but I will always be a pilot.

I am also, now, a sailor. We are approaching the start of our fourth year of living on Kintala with plans (as much as a cruiser can plan) of where we will go stretching out well into the future. But the hard fact is we have been living at a dock for many months now. The other place I long to return to lies “out there”, beyond the break water, where land is a distant shadow. It has been hard to find a path, harder than I had hoped when we first tied up here. Yesterday the long drought came to an end.

We went sailing!

It wasn't on Kintala. She is in the midst of yet another multi-day project and one must step carefully around the open holes in her sole. A cumbersome air conditioning unit / duct work array fouls her deck. The sails are down, and the inner forestay is missing. Many days of effort will be necessary before we can go sailing on our own boat again, and we are not there yet.

Panacea is a mid-30s length Island Packet new to Tom and Lesa. They had it shipped here for work (yes, I did some of it) and are getting ready to move it to a new home somewhere not far from here. But they are new to sailing with most of their experience being classes taken. Deb has spent some time getting to know them, and the invitation to join them for a day of learning the way around a new ride could not be refused.

I guess it was a typical day for Florida sailing in the late summer. Hot, with intermittent winds and the chance of thunderstorms. We spent part of the day drifting until some distant afternoon rain showers stirred up enough of a breeze to see a solid five knots. Shore was still just a few miles away, but Kintala has been sitting within inches of a pier for so long that it seemed like big open water. We heeled, tacked, jibed, played the wind, and generally had nothing short of a great day. The only down side was not being able to anchor out for the night.

Late in the afternoon Tom coasted us into the pier like a pro, though there was a bit of a struggle getting the lines run and snugged at the right length. Tying a boat midst pilings is more art than science, and it can be a black art until the same boat has been parked in the same place many a time. With Panacea resting secure we headed back to dock-bound Kintala.

But being out for the day made it seem like Kintala was a little less bound than she was. Summer is fading. The work on the boat is going well. The cruising kitty is looking better every week.

We will return soon.

Boat Hopscotch

My recent descent into blog silence has been due in part to an injury brought on by sheer stupidity, not something you really like to announce to the whole blogosphere. Due to some moving around of cover straps to stabilize our shade cover during the last tropical storm, I ended up catching my foot on a strap that wasn't where I was used to it being, and dumped myself onto the side deck. In addition to injuring my right arm and shoulder in the process, I think I may have shaved off a few days of Tim's life expectancy as he was down below when I fell. For nearly two weeks, all boat projects came to a screeching halt while I tried to rest the offending appendage. Telling a Type-A workaholic personality with a project list and shrinking time frame to lay still for two weeks is difficult at best. I found a good series of books and settled in for the duration. While it still makes its presence known on a regular basis, the injury is healing slowly and boat projects have once again commenced.

The blog silence has also been partly due to the fact that the particular project I'm tackling right now is a long-term one. I'm refinishing the very old, discolored, dented, and completely disgusting floor inside Kintala. We had debated off and on about doing it at all, afraid that the veneer might be too thin to sand and not wanting to try to tackle the job of replacing the teak and holly plywood entirely while we were also living on the boat full time. One day that I was waiting on parts I decided to sand the worst section, the small  piece at the head of the V-berth which had been damaged by a previous owner's neglect in repairing the head which then leaked into the V-berth (ewww). It was an isolated piece, one separated from the rest of the salon floor by a ledge, so if it didn't turn out well it would not be staring us in the face. Anything had to be better than the stained, peeling stuff that was there. Using my cheap old Black and Decker mouse sander I went to work and was pleasantly surprised. Most of the stains and dents came up, leaving just a few places that were too badly stained to sand off. I got some Oxalic acid and treated the black mold stains that were left, but the damage had been too long standing to treat. The Oxalic acid did a nice job of lightening the teak overall and I suspect it would do well on newer stains, but this had been there over 10 years. Nonetheless, the floor took a finish nicely and encouraged me to proceed with the rest.

The problem with refinishing a boat floor while you're living in the boat is that you can't walk on the piece you did for 24 hours. This means that I'm having to do one small section at a time so we can hop over it while it's curing. Fortunately, the floor in Kintala is divided up into sections that make this possible with a minimal amount of hopscotch. After a lot of research I decided to use Jamestown Distributor's Circa 1850 finish. It's a very hard, very fast-drying polyurethane, the kind they use on bowling alleys. You can recoat in 3 hours if the temp and humidity are ideal. Since I'm doing five coats, a quick-curing finish was essential.

One of the major challenges with this project has been a large fuel stain right in front of the port side settee that was caused when a fuel tank leaked two owners before us. It completely saturated the marine plywood subfloor as well as the teak and holly plywood. It had turned the wood dark, especially the light holly strips. In this photo you can see the stain in the bottom left corner. The top of the section is where I had begun sanding. Since I was less than pleased with the results of the Oxalic acid treatment of the V-berth section, I started researching online to see if I could find something to remove oil-based stains from teak. A couple of the forums kept mentioning a product called K2R, a dry-cleaning solvent that removes stains from fabric as well as concrete and wood. I remembered using the stuff when I was young and decided to try it. It was emphasized that multiple applications would be necessary on tough stains so I anticipated using a bunch of it, but I ordered only one can to try it. There is a household 5-oz size, but there is a 12-oz can packaged for marine use that is surprisingly cheapest at West Marine. This stuff is amazing.

The second photo here on the right is after sanding, showing the stain. This photo is taken from the opposite direction so the stain is in the top right corner. The photo below is after 6 applications of the K2R. You spray it on, let it sit for 10 minutes until it completely dries into a white powder, sweep it off, then rinse it with water and let dry.

The only problem with long-term fuel stains is that they continue to seep up from the sub floor and into the teak and holly again. I was surprised just how much it continues to seep, even though the leak was years ago. Each application leaves a little less seep, but it will take 3 or 4 cans of K2R to get it done. When I rinsed it with the water I was able to gauge the color it would look like with the finish and, while I'm satisfied with the evenness of the color, I'm still a little concerned about the fuel seeping up under the finish and damaging it, so I'm going to continue with the K2R for a few more applications to see if I can get the seepage down to a minimum. Here's a photo of the way it looked when I rinsed it with water and it was still wet. Considering how damaged the floor was, I think it's going to look great.

Here's a detail of just how damaged the floor was, with the top part of the photo the freshly sanded and the bottom unsanded and damaged.

I was able to take all the hatch boards out of the boat and sand and refinish them outside which helped to minimize the interior mayhem quite a bit. Once I start with the finish inside the boat, though, it will take quite a few weeks to complete so that each section cures enough to walk on before I start the next section. In the mean time we'll practice up on our hopscotch.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Things I sometimes think that I think

I think I am turning into a bit of a hermit, going for days on end without getting much further than a couple of miles from Kintala and her dock. The only people I see most days are those at the shop. They are amiable, good at what they do, and have accepted me after only a couple of months. But we are co-workers, not really friends. I don't carry a phone anymore, it rarely rang anyway. (I am not very good at phone conversations.) Maybe not carrying a cell phone is the new definition of “hermit” in America. Sometimes people connected with work ask me for my cell number. I tell them I have one but don't bother with it much, so the number will do them little good. That usually sparks a cartoon like “double take”.

If I did happen to have my phone on me, and someone called from work when I wasn't working, I think it unlikely I would answer. I may be semi-un-retired at the moment, but I gave up thinking my worth has anything to do with my work several years ago. I learned the hard way that the overwhelming majority of the people I have worked for were only interested in how much of the money I generated by working for them was money they got to keep for themselves. Many of them openly resented the fact that they had to share any of “their” money with me in pay or benefits. All of them considered the job I did as theirs, loaned to me for their exclusive good. Many also seemed to think all of my time was theirs, to be used as they saw fit, including talking to them on the phone when I wasn't at work. (At my last job the boss actually called me after work to tell me that I was unemployed. Another job ended with a phone call on the Sunday afternoon of the Labor Day Weekend. America is good at vicious irony.) Maybe they are right in thinking such since, after all, that is what makes capitalism, capitalism. 

In any case I think one nice thing about being a bit hermit-like is that no job is one that owns me anymore. I do any job as well as I can partly because that is how I was raised, and partly because that ideal really is one that serves to make America great. How could any society where all of its people were dedicated to craftsmanship and excellence in every facet of life be anything but great? Still, should any job I have go away tomorrow, it would not be much of a blow. Kintala moves. My home goes with me. I own my tools and know how to use them, and I think that is where real value lies.

I think pretty much the same about politics as I do my phone; sometimes useful, but often best ignored. I think there is a lot of heat being generated in the current election, but not much light. It is an election over which party, which candidate, is the marginally less loathsome. A shame, really. But I think, as do some others, that this is the best democracy money can buy. And any democracy as bought and paid for as this one is going to be of poor quality, questionable value, and uncertain future.

Still, I think I will not be voting for Mr. Trump, but my reasons are pretty simple and not particularly political. Some of the people I love most on this whole planet are bi-racial, female, or both. I have friends and distant family who are gay. Many of the good people I do work with are Spanish-speaking first and second generation immigrants. And I am only a third generation immigrant myself. 

Mr. Trump is enthusiastically supported by every white supremacist organization in the nation. He is enthusiastically supported by people who loudly claim to have the god-given right to judge, condemn, harass, and oppress people who are gay. He is supported by many who really do think women are second class citizens, deserving of less pay and less say about how they live their lives. And someone should remind Mr. Trump that he is only a third generation immigrant himself, that a lot of the people he wants to deport have Spanish-speaking family who have been living in this part of the world a lot longer than his.

I think America is at her best when she does the hard, gritty work of eliminating discrimination in any form. I think she is at her best when lifting all people up is the goal, and putting anyone down is openly criticized. I think she is great when she seeks peace and not war. And I don't think any nation that is hostile to the refugees it created with the wars it fights has the right to claim "exceptionalness".

Not that this election, itself, matters all that much, since I think Mr. Trump and Ms. Clinton are more symptoms than they are candidates. My favorite example is that Mr. Trump likes to boast about the politicians he has "influenced", and Ms. Clinton is certainly a politician who is open to being "influenced". It always works out that the people in power, which includes those who wield political power, economic power, or both, eventually get greedy with that power. The workings of the society get twisted so they can claim for themselves an ever-increasing portion of that society's wealth. It happens in dynasties, kingdoms, tyrannies, republics, and democracies. Eventually the greed leads to ruin and a different group of people end up with power. And the whole cycle starts all over again.

So I think it may well be that we are all members of an insane species, one that keeps doing the same things over and over again: worshiping greed, lusting after power, fighting wars, and thinking – somehow – that this time things will work out for the better. But I also think that maybe, sometime in the far future, those living with our future as their past will see things more clearly, change their thinking, and watch things work out differently. I like to think that someone will be around to learn from our collective mistakes.

In the mean time, some of us can try to think a little differently. We can think that living in small homes is better than living in mansions. We can think that generating power at that home, and using it carefully, is better than depending on a creaking and questionable infrastructure. We can think that conservation and living well with less is better than unbridled consumerism, that lusting after unending growth in a finite world with finite resources really is insane. We can think that waste is wrong, and do as little wasting as we can.

We can think that walking or riding a bicycle is better than driving a car, and so drive as little as necessary while walking and peddling as much as we can. We can think that a community built with that kind of thinking is a good place to live, and build some more of them.

We can think that truths should influence politics, and not the other way around. We can think that we know the difference between propaganda and news, ignoring the former and seeking the latter in matters where we have an interest. We can think that most people are more like us than different, that we can usually allow for the differences that do exist, that we can get more done by working together than by competing with each other. We can think that minding our own business is far better than minding someone else's.

We can think that thinking, all by itself, is a good and valuable thing, and do more of it.

At least, that's what I sometimes think that I think.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

What are you going to do?

We are where the little turquoise dot is.
For more than a week we kept a close eye on “tropical depression nine” as it worked its way – slowly – out of the Caribbean, into the Florida Straights, and out into the Gulf of Mexico south and west of were Kintala sits. Right up until a couple of days ago I wasn't too concerned. At first it was on the wrong side of the State, aimed more at Miami. Even if it turned into something over there, by the time it bashed its way across the peninsula to us it couldn't amount to much.

Then it moved south of the Keys. I still wasn't too concerned, all but one of the “spaghetti tracks” of past storms that moved that way went off further to the west. Most of the discussion on NOAA was all about how poorly organized the depression was, though a lot of rain could be expected. Ah, but then one of the forecasters made a statement; “There is no scenario that leads to the depression becoming a hurricane before landfall.”

That concerned me. But what are you going to do? It is Florida. It is the hurricane season. Given enough warning Kintala could be hauled, blocked, and strapped down in a matter of hours. So we watched and debated and planned, wondering just how much warning we could get on a storm that was already hanging out in our neck of the woods.

And then hurricane Hermine was born this very afternoon. As I type, it is hammering the coast just 162 miles to our north-north west. This morning the forecast for our spot in the world was for rain, thunderstorms, and winds in the 15 to 25 knot range, there was no “tropical discussion” at all. Just after noon the winds cranked up well into the 40s, ripping the driving rain off the roofs of buildings in a blinding spray, trees bent and stuff flew...just like it looks on the Weather Channel videos. A few miles from here a big schooner used as a party boat was sunk at its dock. The Skyway Bridge closed. Fortunately the assault was short lived, but as the day wore on bands of heavy weather blasted the boat yard with tropical force winds and more driving rain. A tornado watch was issued that doesn't expire for another hour and a half. We are currently riding out yet another weather band being spun off of the main storm, if a tornado does come our way we wouldn't hear it over the wind noise; the first clue we will get is the building next to us exploding into shrapnel. The Skyway bridge is still closed.  The fruit basket in the galley is hanging noticeably askew while Kintala jerks against her lines and bounces off her fender board. It is low tide now, but the walkway at our pier is already under water, something that doesn't usually happen at high tide. Sleep will be noticeably lacking this night.

It is likely that all will be well with Kintala in the morning, though there is no guarantee. By morning some people are going to be hurt, others will have lost homes and businesses. Throw the dice, draw a straw, most will be lucky, a few will not.

But what are you going to do?