Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Lucky man

Several years ago two of my grandsons sat alongside me under one of the picnic pavilions at the marina in Middle River, Ft Lauderdale. We were hand sanding a new part for Kintala’s interior, they being way too young for power tools. It remains one of my favorite “I am a grandpa” memories. Time rolls on, grandsons grow, and boats like Kintala always seem to have something that needs sanded and refinished. It is a kind of cosmic regenerating circle work, like the grass growing in the yard. Between that time and now they moved to Indiana, then Missouri, and now live on a boat just a few slips away from us. They have also grown up enough to tangle with palm sanders.

And they loved it.

Sanding in 2014

Fortunately we have three aboard. Yeah, I know. We have also moved all of my tools off of the work golf cart and back into our the aft cabin’s work bench area. Ye Old Tartan now lists about 3 degrees to starboard even in dead calm winds. We really should go through and “down size” the tool collection again.  We thought about it, then just found cubbies and holes to stash the ones we don’t use that often; like 3 or four of the 7 3/8’s drive ratchets we have aboard. There is the short one, the normal length one, the long one, the one with a swivel head, the one with a 3/8s on one side and 1/4 on the other side, the main one that is a Snap-on unit I have had since my days in tech school, and a cheap-assed one that serves mostly as a hammer. There is actually an eighth one that is part of a metric 3/8s set that rests in its own box. It stays with the set. (Along with the 3 and 8 inch extensions, of which we also have several floating around.) Going to sea with a retired mechanic has its challenges.

So the dock box at the end of the pier was turned into a work table for Grampy T and two sheets of wood were laid on the ground for the kids.  Extension cords were run and the five teak parts taken off the cockpit seats and companionway were parsed out to my “worker men.” There was a little trepidation to go along with their excitement since they hear constant warnings about how easy it is to get hurt with a power tool. Palm sanders are likely the least dangerous power tool of all, but still…these boys are nine and five respectively. A sanded finger would make me very unpopular with Mom.

Proper technique was reviewed. Sand the piece, don’t scrub at it. Keep the sander moving when it is touching on the wood. Go with the grain. And sand old varnish not newly exposed wood. They fired up, their little faces scrunched up in that particular way kids have when they are concentrating, and the dust started to fly.

It was pure magic for Grandpa.

I was an instructor for the first hour or so, watching carefully as they got to know the work. At times I would put my hand over theirs on the sander, adjusting the cadence and length of their stroke or letting them know that they didn’t need to lean so hard on the tool. They are quick learners and were soon flying solo.

It was a popular show for some of the other crews hanging around the boat yard, doing their own projects in preparation for heading out. One passer by made the comment, “You are a lucky man.”

I suspect he doesn't know just how right he is.


James said...

What a great day and a great memory!

Hartley Gardner said...

Looks like fun - and oh so satisfying!