Friday, April 27, 2012

Life in a boat yard

Life in a boat yard

It has been awhile since we have sent out an update. Why? You ask. ^#@*#! We don’t talk like that, and I’m not going to now. Suffice it to say, there has been some progress with the projects, but it is slow. Why? You ask.  Remember the boat list rule? 10 items on the list, complete one and now you only have 19. The engine was as close as possible to an exact fit. However, the hoses, cables, through hulls,… need to be changed. The new lifeline stations look great, so why not get rid of that bent pulpit? And—it is hot!
Oh, right, I said I wasn’t going to go into all of that.
Everyone here is pretty much doing what we are doing, so there is a lot of discussing. We are getting some good advice and occasionally, Reggie gives some advice as well. There are no bow waves, but instead the sound of grinders and power washers. Let me introduce you to some of the people here. They are friendly, helpful and one of the main reasons we are not progressing faster.
George, on our starboard, around 70, born in Cuba, painting his boat. He is not a painter. He loans us his car-we commiserate.
Susan and Gordon, on the other side. They have at least 3 boats and no house. She has herbs growing in the cockpit.  He is building a hard dodger. They expect to be here for another year! We hope to be out of here before they are. She baked a yummy sweet bread and gave some to us. It was dinner, with some cream cheese, last night. We exchange tools, stories and advice. We seem to be on the short end of this exchange.
Cindy is a Montanan and now is living here on her boat and working at the local Military history museum. We have also borrowed her vehicle on several occasions, but were able to take her to dinner, once.  It is so hard to repay all of the kindness.
Montanan? Did that make you sit up and take notice? Brian and Dawn Anne aren’t really from Montana, but they sail out of Dayton. They were only here for a few days, but that was enough time to go out for dinner a couple of times and have lunch on their beautiful yacht. Can’t wait to see them again this summer on the lake.
Lunch on their yacht…hmmmm….seems like there was something else…Oh, right. How could I forget that? Kathy and her friend Nick were there also! Many of you know Kathy. We first met her when she showed up at our boat at Flathead Lake and wanted to know if she could crew. We said “yes” and were so pleased for a few years. Then she and Sean decided to race against us. What’s up with that?  Awesome friends, great competition.
This afternoon we were humbled when Dean and Nancy dingyed in to take us out to their yacht.  The back of their boat card is filled with my notes! They told us to call them before buying or doing anything, because they now know the best products, deals and places. Good thing we have a cell phone or our phone bill would be way out there. It was a little hard to come back to the slums, but I’m over it and loving Submit again.
The crew at the marina is great, as well as the people who have “tagged on” a business. Steve, the Monkey Fist salvage guy, is our most often visited place. We take stuff we have removed from Submit and come back with stuff we might need. We tasked him with keeping track of the revolving stuff-he may have nightmares. Jerry, the wood guy, is the one who saved hours of work and frustration, by supplying and building the new engine stingers.
So why aren’t we further along on our projects, you ask? We are too busy yakking and enjoying ourselves to work on frustrating projects.
Gotta go, Oh, Hi. Sure, I guess we could go out for a beer!


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Life "on the hard"

Put it in, take it out.  Put it in, take it out.  It’s too small and it fell out.  Wait!  Stop!  It’s too big!  Get an extension.  Brace yourself and strain.  No, don’t put it there.  That’s not where it belongs!

Our biggest project?  The old engine, "take it out", and prep for the new one.

Barbara in the vile bowels of the boat, already partially cleaned even though it doesn't look it.

Barbara heading donwn the port lazarette in the cockpit to get to where she was in the last picture, but this time carrying the scrub bucket to scrub the vile bowels of the boat before painting.


Engine "put it in", suspended by antique chain hoist over cockpit before passing into salon through companionway

Moving the engine through the companionway involves Barbara steadying the engine while I manhandle first one side of the A-fran-and -beam assembly forward 6" then the other.  then the engine is lowered to the salon flor and "worked back under the cockpit through where the companionway steps used to be, and then make a right turn as seen in the picture above.  Then, "take it out" to modify the engine stringers.

Hours over the past couple days have been spent searching, calling, researching to find appropriate wood from which to make new engine stringers.  The day was saved by Jerry, who is only about 100 feet away, who remembered a piece piled in the back of his boat repair facility.  Jerry specializes in wooden boats.  He’ll be able to bring the beams to us tomorrow.

As it was.

As it is.

Living on the boat, in a boatyard, while working on the boat means neither living nor working goes smoothly.  Half the time is spent moving things out of the way to some spot where they will be in the way later. 

Clutter on deck above and in cockpit below.

The V-berth.  Fortunately we do not sleep there these days.

Lower salon starboard setee filed with parts and "stuff".

The purpose of the above picture is to show that we live at the moment without companionway steps.  Supports for them had to be removed to get the old engine out, the new engine in...and back out...and hopefully soon to be back in again.  No steps means barbara has to step up onto the settee on the right by the throwable flotation device and butt pad.  This is a step of about 30 inches.  At 5'2", Barbara's inseam is much less than that.  Then she must reach to the coach roof and hoist herself up to exit height....every time she goes outside the boat, which is many times per day.  She rapels back in.

 The other half is spent taking several times longer than necessary to accomplish anything.  I’ve come to believe some “Boat wisdom” I’ve heard repeated:

10 projects on the to-do list minus one completed project equals 19 projects on the to-do list.

Everything costs twice as much and takes three times as long as originally anticipated.

Every major project takes a boat week and there are 12 boat weeks per year.

Costs are measured in boat bucks.  One boat buck equals $100.

BOAT stands for “bring on another thou$and”.

Down the ladder to do a project.  Up the ladder to get the parts and tools left behind for the project.  Down the ladder to get to the laundry or shower or bathroom.  Up the ladder to haul supplies.  Down the ladder to haul the trash.  Up the ladder to ask a question.  Down the ladder to take a measurement.

The broken ball valve on the cockpit drain was a bugger to remove.  In the process, the through hull, which was of inappropriate design, was probably over-tightened and stressed.  And, since I would worry about the through hull failing at some bad time, and because it is undersized and incorrect anyway, I’ve decided to replace it with a proper seacock 50 percent larger. 

Buy the right parts.  Cut a bigger hole in the boat.  For 50%?  Well, a 50% increase in diameter doubles the size of the drain.  And, if you have to go to all the work of changing, why not change for the better?  Now, as soon as we can get all the right parts, we can fill the hole in the bottom of the boat with the new drain!

Barbara did some cleaning and corrosion control on the refrigerator compressor system.  The beer is staying well chilled!

We’ve removed the old exhaust through hull leaving another hole which will need to be made larger and filled with the new “exhaust pipe” for the engine.

Barbara has modified, repaired and reorganized some of the interior shelving.

I lowered the new engine back down to the ground outside the boat outside the boat and covered it with plastic since it is going to rain.  Barbara taped over all the holes we’ve created in the deck in hopes of forestalling leaks.

We’ve decided to add an accumulator tank into the water system and have acquired the tank but have not yet installed it.

We almost collapse into bed at night.  Internet reception has been good so we’ve been watching episodes of “Green Wing”, a British medical comedy, before drifting off to sleep.   Morning brings a fresh pot of coffee percolating on the stove and more debate concerning which project to leave incomplete this day.

Thank heavens for my Bride.  She is relentlessly cheerful.  She prepares tasty meals.  She is willing to be involved in the projects.  She fits where I cannot!  She’s become a good Cribbage player.   She makes me smile and laugh every day, and I still think she’s cute!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Projecti horibili

We have been "on the hard" for 10 days.  We have torn almost everything apart.  The bow pulpit is off, along with all the lifelines and stanchions.  The old traveler is off.  The old engine is removed and gone to a new home. 
We've worked hard every day except yesterday.  Not much seems to be getting done.  Yesterday, Barbara requested a break.  She wanted to do something "fun".  We borrowed a friend's vehicle and did a marathon 3 hours at a Super Walmart, shopping and losing each other.  FYI, Barbara hates shopping, but compared to what we've been doing, it met the requirement of "fun".
Barbara has managed to comlete a couple of her special projects including expanding a bookshelf and building a wine glass storage.  She has also cleaned the engine compartment and lazarettes and painted them, cleaned the deck where the new stanchions go and drilled any necessary holes, and been a great assistant with all the other projects including the engine install.
We've changed some plumbing and electrical to clean things up and get them out of the way.
I've been working on the new engine project since the beginning of December.  It was ordered complete with custom built mounting brackets to compensate for the engine it was replacing and make it an easy repower and installation.  
I assumed, apparently erroneously, that they would mimick the old brackets in all three dimensions.  Well, they were approximately the same width as the old ones.  No problem.  They were a different length than the old ones, which, though inconvenient, would be a modestly easy fix.  However, they are almost 2 inches lower than the old ones.  Huge problem and headache. 
The most workable solution is to cut away a significant portion of the molded engine mounting rails and add new beams in their place.  A significant source of rectal discomfort. 
Tonight I feel like I have minute slivers of fiberglass in every pore of my body. 
I'll have to find appropriate lumber and shape it to fit.  I'll have to beg, borrow or rent a vehicle to go do this. 
To get to this point, Barbara and I have hoisted the engine up almost 10 feet on a manual chain hoist, guided it over the side of the boat to the cockpit, into the upper salon through the companionway, lowered it to the salon floor, shoved, maneuvered and cajoled it back under the cockpit sole, shifted it sideways onto the existing engine stringers only to find that it would not fit and had to reverse the whole process to take the engine out, begin modifications and eventually do the install all over again.  All with a solid 1/2" width to spare.
Not a happy camper.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Cautions and extractions

I’ll be playing catch up in this posting since I’ve not posted for over a week. Photos and additional comments will be included in the blog  As a reminder, if you follow the blog and want to be taken off the email list, just let us know.

All good plans require occasional revision.  A week ago, we had things perfectly timed for arriving in Jacksonville, FL to spend a night at the dock, do some shopping the next morning, and then on to our new temporary home at Green Cove Springs Marina.  The traveling days would be a comfortable length, the tides would be flowing with us, etc.

Do not become complacent about the width and depths of the waterway.  Do not be distracted by the pretty white birds along the shore.  Do not forget to review and follow your charts.  Do not muse about the forlorn sailboat washed up high and dry. 

(What time is it now, kids?  Its music trivia time!  Name the song, artist and next line: "She used to be somebody's lady")

Do not run soft aground and then compound the error by heading towards the shoal.  Do not call TowboatUS, for you are a cruiser and supposed to be able to handle situations like this all by yourself.  (One of their boats did pass by and never even bothered to check on us.)

Where were we supposed to be?

Do watch the water around you gradually recede.  Do feel and see the boat slowly leaning farther to port until it is heeled about 30 degrees. 

She's just starting to heel.  She goes over much farther and receding water leaves the shoal exposed in front of her.

Do set the kedge anchor in preparation for the high tide later.  Do watch each boat going by and thinking they are so glad they are not you.  Do take advantage of the enforced break to have lunch at the dining table, which requires non-skid for the dishes and a throwable life cushion under one cheek.  Do waste a few hours and upset the perfectly timed schedule waiting for the tide to fill back in and then proceed to kedge off and head a little more cautiously on your way.

We did not make it to Jacksonville on Tuesday.  A very long, slow Wednesday, upwind and against the tide, brought us to just outside the marina.  Sean and Jean came over from the Tampa area Thursday to check out our engine which they were considering buying for their boat.  The deal consummated they returned home.  They would come back later with a trailer to pick up the engine.

“Submit” was hauled and blocked in the work yard late morning Friday.  I began that afternoon and evening disconnecting everything from the engine and transmission in preparation for removal. 

I found his knee.  Where is Reggie?

There he is, sardined into the engine compartment.  At 6'3" and 280 lbs, we may need to use the hoist to extract his size 14's!

I arranged to have an “A” frame and rusty chain hoist positioned over the boat after measuring to see if it could lift the engine and transmission assembly high enough. I should not have been so concerned.  We had a full 3 inches to spare.

Have you really ever tried to thread a camel through the eye of a needle?  This engine was installed in the hull before the top half of the boat was set down over it 43 years ago. 

In theory, it could be extracted if necessary if you had some way to reach into the salon, under the cockpit sole, to raise the engine a couple inches, rotate it to aim it at the offset opening created when the companionway steps are removed, raise everything high enough to clear the salon sole, shift everything about 5 feet forward so it ends up in the salon, hoist it high enough to clear the companionway threshold, use brute strength to move the A frame assembly back 5 feet while it is carrying the engine assembly, to get the engine to pass aft through the companionway suspended in air over the cockpit, roll the chain hoist to one end of the A frame stand, and lower the engine onto Sean’s trailer.  Theoretically.  With a whole 1 inch to spare for width of the opening.

Thank heavens Sean was eager to get his engine and volunteered to assist in its removal.  We took them to lunch to bolster Sean’s courage and strength.  Then, while Jean took Barbara shopping for provisions, the extraction began. 

It fit through that opening, will it fit through this one?

Sean prays and uplifts.

Its out!

You never saw a happier face than Barbara’s when she returned from shopping to find the engine out and being lowered to the trailer.  Thank you, thank you, Sean for your help.  Off to take them to dinner to celebrate!

I want to add a clarification. This sounds like I was sunbathing and shopping while Reggie struggled with the extraction. I forgive him for this, as he truly was engrossed and encased.  I washed clothes for the first time since we left home and shopping was only to provide sustenance and libations for the “strugglers”.  The happy faces were on Sean and Reggie when we drove up and they popped a beer. Provisioning was past due. We had been eating a can of this added to a can for that for the last two days. Getting the new provisions into the boat is a little bigger challenge when she is on the hard.  It reminds me of carrying the grocery sacks up a ladder to put them on a roof, then rappelling with them down into the salon because the steps into the interior are gone.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Horses, Lizards and Ticks, Oh my!

Horses, Lizards and Ticks, oh my!

We had a couple days of travel without much to report, except the two real live alligators swimming in the river. The last one I saw was only about 15 feet from us when he disappeared. I got a pretty good look at him!
I wanted to visit Cumberland Island, which is the largest and most southern barrier island in SC. It is a National Seacoast, has wild horses and the ruins from when the Carnegies, the brother of the more famous one, lived there.  We first saw some of the horses on the beach as we went by the northern part of the island, but we were headed for the southern portion.
We arrived, dropped anchor and went to get a closer look at the Island Packet’s bimini, dodger of the neighboring boat. They, of course asked us on board. They have been living aboard for about five years and love it. He had his sewing machine set up and was recovering their cockpit cushions. Their bimini/dodger was really a cockpit enclosure-all one piece. We may have to incorporate some of their ideas! Their water catchment system was quite simple and apparently efficient.
The next morning we dinghyed into shore as the ferry was unloading a boy scout troop. There was a steady stream of scouts carrying boxes, coolers, etc for about 30 minutes? I was becoming concerned, as in all of those supplies, I hadn’t seen one sleeping back or tent. Finally, they made one last trip and got their backpacks with bags, etc. Don’t they have a motto that says something about being prepared? And boys that age do eat a lot, but it was a very long parade.
We walked on the River Walk, but there were no pamphlets, so we had to make up our own reasons for the numbered stops.

There were lots of lizards skittering through the brush.

one of the lizards not in the bush

At the end of the River Walk was the Ice House museum, where we learned the history of the island. Mrs. Carnegie was the one who wanted to live on the island. They had to be pretty much self sufficient, which required something like 400 slaves for the family. They even had a heated indoor pool. After she died, the house fell vacant. Unfortunately, it caught fire and was pretty much destroyed.  We spent a leisurely morning exploring around all of the ruins and even remembered to take pictures.

gates leading to the front of the mansion

you may be able to see a little of how the rear of the mansion looked in this picture of a picture.

this picture we took from a similar spot as the picture above.

We had a rather close encounter with a small group of horses. We could hear them running, but it was rather thick foliage right there. Suddenly, they burst into an opening about 15 feet from us. There were four or five and the lead mare was not happy-head down ears back. I thought for a minute we were going to get run over, as they seemed confused about where to go. The rest of the horses we saw were just grazing and seemed content. We saw two small foals. There are around 136 horses on the island, as well as deer, raccoon, armadillos and fowls. We saw turkey, an owl with a mouse or something, raccoon and, of course, lizards.
We took a different trail back.

(Reggie here.  Our wanderings of the Carnegie mansion grounds made me Tara a bit and contemplate the wonderous things we mortals create which, sooner or later, are Gone with the Wind!)

This trail had a pamphlet, so we read about all the different kinds of trees and bushes. I had read that there were ticks, which carry Lymes disease, but figured that it was too hot for them. Wrong. We each found a few crawling on us. They are much smaller than our Montana variety and sort of red in color.
That was more walking than we had done is some time, so we returned to our little home afloat and had a quiet evening.