Friday, May 30, 2014

It's Still All About This Old Boat

I was surprised to realize that we hadn't uploaded any new photos in over a month.  If I want to post anything in the month of May I'd better stop procrastinating. I figured that out three weeks ago so I guess the procrastination continues unabated..   I don't have a lot of tropical exploration type photos at the moment.  We've been putting just about all of our spare time into working on the boat.  And we're making progress.   This boat needed a lot of work.  It still does. It probably always will. Such is the nature of boats.

We've been getting a lot of decent  sunrise and sunset photos recently.   Too many to post them all.  I'll put several in this post, spaced out to dilute the reds.  I like the blue photos better, myself.  We're moving back into what passes as a rainy season here, and that means more clouds and of course clouds make good sunrise and sunset photos.  Sometimes.    I liked this one, on a calm tropical morning with the air and the water so still it was like the morning paused to catch it's breath before the trade winds fell upon us again.

Just about the only times I remember to grab a camera these days are boat related.   And when we're referring to 'the boat' lately, it's always about this one.   The old catamaran there on the right, in our favorite slip at South Side Marina.

I snapped that photo because we've read a lot of stuff about how catamarans won't fit in standard slips. One of the features of this particular boat that was attractive to us was that she was built back before catamarans got so beamy.   We're a little over 17 ft. wide while a modern catamaran of this length would likely have a 21-22 ft. beam.   That extra four or five feet makes a difference down in the islands where slips are scarce.  We typically leave room for a monohull next to us, as long as they're not too big.  This French boat was about as large as we can stand.   And we had to put rubber fenders between us to keep from rubbing together.  I mean, they were nice guys and all but we didn't know them THAT well.

Some of our regular readers might remember our trip down here, and some of the issues that we wrote about back in the summer of 2012.  One of my little frustrations early in the trip was a fuel filler cap that was as stuck as any screw on lid I ever saw. I ended up drilling and tapping holes in it, to get it loose.  I tried every marine supply place I could find on the trip down, attempting to locate a pair of 2" diameter fuel filler fittings.  I never did find any.   But a few weeks ago, I imported some.  I'm not going to ramble on and on about the beauty of new stainless steel compared to thirty year old aluminium.  I think you can figure out which is which.

The red rubber stuff with the ink marks on it is gasket material.   They don't come with gaskets.   I wanted gaskets.  So a-gasket-making we will go.   A tisket, a tasket, a diesel filler gasket.

I've looked through my photos of the past month, trying desperately to find some subject matter that isn't somehow related to our sailboat project.  We've been seeing more kite boarders in the area lately. These four were whipping by with 15 knot winds.  Didn't make me want to take up kite boarding, but it did make me want to sail....

And while we're on the subject of sailing.. our boat is almost ready for an overnight trip. See how quickly I got back on to the boat topic?  I've used our old corroded stove top as a training ground for welding stainless rods.  We had a bunch of these on the boat, used as curtain rods.  I've started cutting them up, and bending them in a vise.  Makes them look kinda like the Terminator's chopsticks or something.  

I'm using them to replace burnt out sections of this old stove grill.  And to my surprise, it's working.

I think I prefer welding stainless to mild steel.  I did have to junk all my old wire brushes and replace them with stainless steel ones to clean up my welds.   I got a kick out of the label on this small size wire brush.   Keep in mind that this is something that will remove paint .  Can you imagine what it would do to your gums? Might need some flavored pumice paste to get down to the last little bit of root.

I'm going to stick another neat sunrise photo in right here.  I like the reflection effects on those rare days when the ocean is calm.  In this one the clouds were between me and the sun, but the reflection further out on the water was from under the cloud bank.  Optical multipath.

I continue my on-the-job diesel mechanic self training.   I'm getting more comfortable taking bigger and bigger subassemblies apart.  What once were mysteries have become familiar components. Setting valve clearances, taking injectors apart. I've been chasing down some smoking issues with one of our engines. I took this photo of a little tool I made from stainless wire.  It's to pull some of the copper washers out of the injector housings.

We continue to find uses for the 3D printer.  I could probably fill a blog post every week or two just with printer projects.  I'm not going to detail them here, but can give you a recent example.   We needed something to attach curtains to a hanging bulkhead.  I don't like to drill holes in boats when I can possibly avoid it, so I was looking for an existing anchor point.  One of the window frame bolts worked just fine to put a printed part out there with a screw in the end to hold a curtain rod.   We're experimenting with several approaches, using bungee cord, and stainless wire.    These are probably temporary, but it's sure nice to be able to just draw up and print a part to do the job.   A part that only existed in my imagination an hour before.

I must be about halfway through this batch of photos, so I'll call this blog post local noon and all colorful atmospheric photos after this will be sunsets instead of sunrises. Sneaky how I put the nice colorful ones in with the boring boat DIY stuff, isn't it.   You know the old saying... "sometimes you gotta kiss a lot of frogs before you get to a prince".

The sunsets from the house are over the island of Providenciales this time of year.   This often produces reflections of the setting sun off the clouds, down onto the calm salina water, and then back up to the camera.  A double bounce of sunlight.  We never get tired of the sunsets here and will usually stop for a moment just to watch.   And most of the truly spectacular ones seem to happen when I don't have a camera handy.

There's a definition of "cruising" that I've used here before and that states "Cruising is just fixing boats in exotic locations".    This is driving the blind rivets out of our old window frame while fixing more leaks.  I guess we're cruising.

It can get frustrating working on an old boat like this.  I keep finding things done by previous owners that astound me.  For example, this male electrical plug is wired directly in parallel with the boat's shore power cable.  The idea was to be able to just plug it into a portable Honda generator and power all the ac outlets on board when not plugged into shore power.    Well, the downside of this is that those exposed prongs are alive with 120 volts of alternating current when we are plugged into shore power.  I  appreciate what it means to think outside the box, as long as it doesn't put me into one.

I found out that the prongs were live when I touched the electrical plug with my knee. I was in there scraping old adhesive off when I leaned up against it.  I was shocked.  Shocked, I tell you.

And while on the subject of tight squeezes, I've been a little concerned about the dog lately.   Some of you may remember his shameful treatment of a little squeaky duck toy some time ago.  He basically went ballistic and ripped the little squeaky thing out of it.    Well, now we're starting to see evidence that he's a serial desqueaker.  This time the victim was this little Santa toy he got when we left him in the kennel while we went off to Colorado for Christmas.  We didn't exactly catch him in the act, but I'm pretty sure we know who's performing these unauthorized squeakindictomies.

He became shifty eyed and said something about a nervous tic when I questioned him about it.  He claims it's all circumstantial evidence.  I dunno. That dog has guilty written all over his face.

We still stop by the Tiki Hut restaurant at Turtle Cove from time to time.  We don't do it every week any more, but that could pick up again in the off season.  It was just too crowded for us through the winter, with every seat taken by 7:00 PM on "rib night".   We usually take a walk around the marina after dinner, to check out whatever boats are visiting.  There weren't a lot on this particular Wednesday, but we did take this photo of a couple of 'reef balls' that are sitting there, waiting for someone to take them out and put them on the seafloor.  Crustacean Condos.

This was a potentially interesting scenario back at South Side Marina a few days back.   This is the local fishing boat "Galyana".  She ties up to a couple of pieces of steel rebar driven into the shoreline across from the marina.  There are typically three of these fishing boats "squatting" in the marina. That means they tie up to the shore and don't pay any fees to the land owner.   We think that the crew is fairly new at this, without going into details.  I will say we often pause in our work to watch when the Galyana is either arriving, or leaving.  It's been entertaining at some times, worrisome at others. This particular day was one of the slightly worrisome ones.  Can you determine why, from this photo?

I think it's a little more obvious when I enlarge that section of the image.   Yes, the boat is aground on the starboard side as the tide is falling.  And the tide still had a way to go at this point.   We were a little bit concerned.  Bob Pratt, the owner of South Side Marina, called the Marine Police who called the owner of the boat to come watch over it and try to get it off the rocks before it rolled any further to port.   I was a little curious as to why the Marine Police had the owner of this boat on their speed dial...

We get this view constantly as we continue to work on all the little neglected bits and pieces of our own boat.  Last week I tried my hand at making curtains.   Oh yeah, now THIS is a Renaissance Man.... giggle giggle.

Now this is more my normal style.  Another minor crisis in an engine compartment.  This started when I was installing the new fuel fillers that I told you about earlier.  I had installed the starboard side first, as that was the one giving me the most trouble.  Then I opened the hatch on the other side, and promptly noticed an abnormal amount of water in the bilge.  The packing around the propeller shaft was leaking more than usual ( they always leak a little, on purpose) but what was causing the problem was that the mercury switch on the bilge pump was not turning the pump on.  Fortunately for me, I had just made a modification to that bilge pump installation a few months ago.  It made fixing the switch easy.  Then I tried to tighten the packing nut to stop the excessive leaking and found out that it was as tight as it can get.  I had to replace the packing.  I had never done this before.  It's a bit of a nervous feeling to undo this nut while the boat is in the water.  The other side of this shaft is a couple of feet underwater, and with the packing removed, it leaks.  Quite a lot.  Still photography doesn't always tell the story in a dynamic situation, but there is a steady stream of water coming from the fitting on the right side and squirting all the way across this photo.    Stop looking up the leg of my shorts, it was tricky enough to take these photos under duress, as it was.

I tried another photo with the camera's flash turned on.   This is with the stream of water going from left to right.

And the packing that was on board the boat with the other 'spare parts and supplies' turned out to be the wrong size.   I zipped down to the local  marine supply store thinking they'd have the right size. Wrong. They didn't.  So I  ordered it on Amazon, as we find ourselves doing so often these days.  Should be here next week.   In the meantime, I managed to jam oversize packing in and stop the leak.

This is just a photo of our boat with a Norwegian flag flying from one of the halyards.   This does not mean that we have re-flagged our boat.  It only means that we allowed a certain group of Norwegian friends to display their flag on the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian Constitution.   I just sent a version of this photo to a company in New Jersey that builts aluminum radar arches and bimini tops.   Hopefully someday we'll replace all that ugly stuff over the cockpit along with the dinghy davits.  We also want to add a swim platform.  High hopes.  With some complication$ to be overcome.

We've been putting in an average of three or four hours something like five days a week working on this boat. Longer on the weekends. We have a lot of projects going on.  We were up at Bob's  Bar recently after closing up another day's sweat and toil when I saw this weather front moving toward us.   I though it made a dramatic effect, compared to our usual sunny skies and clear water.

Here's another view of the weather from the parking lot at Bob's Bar.   That's La Gringa headed for the car.  We wanted to get home before this one hit us.  

Some days we like to be in the boat when it's raining hard.  Makes it easier to find the next leak to fix.  And there's always a next leak, it seems.

But it's not all bad news on the boat, lately.  Some of our work is starting to pay off.   Do you notice anything different about this view over the bow?  

Yes, we finally got it out of the marina!  This was the first time Twisted Sheets had left the slip since October when we brought it here from the Caicos Marina and Shipyard.  Six monhs of troubleshooting niggling little problems and wrestling with some larger ones.   We took the boat out for the afternoon, with the goal being to drop the anchor and put the sails back on.  There are no sails in that photo above.

And here's a view over the dinghy that does not include the Galyana,

I think we'd like to sell that inflatable, and get a Fol-boat.   Anyone interested in a four year old RIB?  Those davits are destined to be replaced too, eventually.  The new design should be part of the planned new radar arch and new top.  A view off to the starboard, with no other boat in sight.  Ahhhhhhh....

We need more of that.  A LOT more of it.  I think La Gringa would agree.

And Dooley the Demented was surprised to be reminded that this is a boat, and not a floating hotel room.

This is an entirely different boat than the small ones he has gotten accustomed to.  We've decided that it's a good idea to put his life jacket on him when sailing the big boat.  He could fall overboard from here with neither one of us witnessing it.   Backtracking and seeing that bright orange vest would probably be the difference between having a dog for another day, and not.

And we did get the sails back on the boat, after several hours of working out how to do it.  You see, we'd never put the sails on the boat before.  This was our first time. I had assisted the previous owner two years ago up in Jacksonville, but basically all I did was pull on a rope when he told me to.  We had to work this out for ourselves.   I'm embarrassed to admit that we got the Genoa all the way up before we noticed that we had it upside down.  Or maybe that was for oceans south of the equator...

I surprised La Gringa with a new ukulele for Valentine's Day this year, and she's really taken to it.  It's a good instrument for a boat.  Doesn't take up much space and is very light.   We like things that float, although I don't think I am going to ask her to test whether or not this one does.  Let's assume so and skip the confrontation inherent in live testing.

I was looking for some different sunset photos to close this post out with.  Something other than the same tired old view from the house, looking over the salina.   I found this one of the 'sundowners' starting to show up at Bob's Bar for what's becoming a new tradition.

And on one of our trips to the Tiki Hut we witnessed a really nice one over Turtle Cove.  I snapped about 20 versions of this one.     It was a little bit difficult to pick one of the batch. So I decided to show you several.  First, a plain sunset with Casuarina trees.  Over the edge of Little Diddle Cay.

Then we shifted down the dock a bit to the east so that I could get an Osprey nest and a sloop into the photo.  I thought this might make it a little more interesting.  I mean, it's more interesting if you like your birds nests and boats with poles attached.  

Of course my personal favorite of the Turtle Cove Sunset series is the one with my Honey in it.

With all those to choose from, I found myself unable to make a decision. I liked them all.  So I reverted and found a completely different one.  Taken from the house.  Over the salina.  Like always.  I'm so predictable..


wyattsailing said...

Another great post! You and La Gringa are earning your refit stripes for sure. Glad you finally got out on the water. Really helps change your perspective on things. And helps remind you why you are doing all that work every day. Enjoyed all the pics, too! Keep on keepin' on!
LA, Susan, and LuLu

ThePirateDoc said...

Glad to see you guys SAILING! Got my 27 yo Oday 272 out and about last weekend for the first time since ... ever. She would be an OK TCI monohull - only draws 2'11" (89cm if you're metric). Still loving the blog, and Dooley is still the scene stealer.

Anonymous said...

Hip hip hooray!!!! was becoming restless during my lunch hour waiting for the next post!!! lolll thank you!

kristine barr said...

Glad to hear fom you again, Sounds like boat restoration is ongoing. Sunset photos gorgeous as usual.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. We just took the boat out for another little shakedown trip today. We anchored off Bay Cay and put a kite and camera up. Found the next half dozen projects. Doesn't take long. And it shouldn't be long before we're out for some overnight trips and exploring.

Bill said...

Glad to see twisted sheets out of the marina! Looking forward to where you're overnight trips take you.