Monday, February 9, 2015

High at Southside Marina

I bet that post title got some attention.   But of course that's the whole idea of a post title, from what I read.    And then, after a title like that to start it off with, my first photo has absolutely   nothing to do with  the subject of this post.


That's a photo of the subject of next Monday's post, if things go according to plan.    I'm waiting for La Gringa to put together a little video, and while that will be done fairly quickly, it's not in time for THIS Monday blog post. So I shifted gears and will just talk about other stuff.

Yes, it's true.  I did get high at South Side Marina this week.  And here's the proof. That's my foot desperately trying to stick to that mast like a panic stricken gecko, there.


I have an unavoidable collection of repairs that I have to do  up the mast.  It's one of the last places on the boat where the lightning strike damage hasn't been fixed. Yet. And the reason it hasn't been fixed is me.  I accept full responsibility and admit that I don't like climbing up tall skinny aluminum poles that are moving in the wind.   I also don't like the idea that if I fell off of here I'd probably put a big ding in the boat.   I would be so annoyed to be lying in a full body cast thinking about a big hole in that cabin roof.

I started slow, and made this first climb only up to the spreaders.  I think it was kind of like an acrophobia vaccination.  I'll give this a little while to settle and then go back up continue to work my way up the mast.  I had some stuff to do at the mid-mast level and this was a good opportunity to try out the bosun's chair that's been evilly grinning at me from within a darkened locker for several years now.  Our signal halyards were in bad shape.  Someone needed to go up and replace the lines and blocks and the oranguatan's big talking bald headed simian cousin  was the logical choice.  I've got the longest arms in the local zoo here,  unless La Gringa was just feeding me a line...



It's difficult to be cool about these things when one has a peanut gallery of witnesses watching   Correction:  make that a highly amused peanut gallery of witnesses.  I noticed no one is standing under the mast.   Especially after I dropped a shackle pin.


I managed to get the signal halyards sorted out on this first excursion aloft.  I still have a lot of other changes and repairs to make.  The radar antenna is totally useless, for example, and I am going to remove that dead weight from the mast.  I also have to replace a VHF antenna and remove a bunch of other junk up at the very top.  This boat still has several obsolete antennas installed up there, along with the electrically fried stuff  that needs repair. 

I managed to get a good look at the hard top and solar panels that we're itching to replace.  Doesn't look that bad, from a distance.  Without eyeglasses.


So that was my first excursion up the mast.  We used this as a little training exercise, and to be sure I didn't turn into a quivering 200 lb blob of sticky Jello up there drying in the sun.    It would have been extremely embarrassing if La Gringa had to climb up alongside me to pry my fingers loose from the aluminum.  It was actually very secure feeling with the mast steps to cling to and a sturdy bosun's chair hanging from a halyard.  I think we can have some fun with this.  And now I have an inkling what kind of a view these guys have.


I also have a bit of respect for what these things think is a normal everyday stroll up the side of something vertical.    Ha.  I've been looking for an excuse to use these two photos.


This is one of our first real attempts to step up the posting frequency  to something every week on this blog.  This means that some weeks there's really not going to be any kind of a 'theme' to it, per se.   Just a collection of photos from the previous week.

And this past week was yet another boat-work intensive week.  There's just no easy way around some of it.   We added another hundred feet of chain to our anchor setup, for example.  Our old sailboat, Twisted Sheets, only had 30 ft. of chain, and then an unknown length of nylon line (rope) which is also called rode, when it's spliced to a chain and used to anchor a boat.  Strange  how that works out, isn't it?  If I bought a new spool of 5/8" nylon rope, it would be called "rope" as long as I kept it on the spool on the boat.  As soon as I pull a length of it off and cut it to use it for something on the boat, it's no longer rope.   Oh, it's the same exact stuff as before, twisted nylon filaments.  But now it's gone from being rope to being line.  

UNLESS.... I use that line to tie to my anchor.  Then the same bit of rope  transforms once again, this time into "rode". I appreciate tradition when it serves a useful purpose but I confess that I find a lot of the nautical lingo a bit silly and needlessly complex.  I think there's no good purpose inherent in confusing terminology that adds an air of perceived complexity to sailing that doesn't need to be there.  But then I feel the same way about port and starboard.   If you're ever on our boat, and feel the need to yell out that there's a rope dragging in the water on the right side of the boat.... go ahead.  We'll appreciate it.   And we won't try to 'correct' you, either.

Hey I didn't intend for this to turn into a mini rant against confusing nautical terms.   It was just what popped into my head as we flaked out just over a shot of chain there on the quay before using the  windlass gypsy and after fetching some seizing, shackle key  connecting link and a fid from the lazarette...


Getting chain safely from the car to the wharf to the dock to the boat takes a little care.  If this stuff gets away from you, it loves to head straight to the bottom of the water.  I guess that's part of what makes it so well suited for anchoring.

When I was picking which of the dozens of photos we have to use here, I couldn't help but notice that this one has one of our latest 'dream boats' in it.   That nice white new catamaran  Shangri La  is a Leopard 44.   We like the Robertson and Caine Leopards.   If you remember our post from December 2009 called The Busman's Holiday. you might recall that we were chartering a Leopard 42.  This boat in these photos is an updated, larger version of that boat.  We liked the "42" for two and didn't want for more, but what we've seen has turned us green for the lovely "44".  

 We first spotted Shangri La as she came into the marina.   The very distinctive front cockpit design is apparent from a distance.   


We've now had several days to look at the Leopard 44, and it's a nice one, for sure.  Of course we can think of about three quarters of a million reasons we will never own one.  But hey, it's not a bad dream to work on for a while, is it.

Meanwhile, back at reality, we managed to get the hundred feet of new chain attached to the existing short 30 ft. section and loaded it onto Twisted Sheets.




Wow, I actually managed to post two photos in a row without writing any extra words to complicate the whole thing.  Maybe I should start using that 'technique' more often. Sure would speed things up at this end.

 By now you'll have realized that our lives lately continue to revolve around getting this old boat ready to sail.   And when I write sail, I don't mean out and back in time for happy hour.   I mean sail as in different languages during happy hour.  Maybe we could do a blog series on Happy Hours we have known.

 It can be a little frustrating not to have a bunch of our normal tropical photos to show you, but we really are putting most of our free time into this.  And it's starting to show.  Jacob has been concentrating on interior improvements and that's a huge jump forward for us.  I don't have an exact before-and-after photo just yet.  Mainly because I stupidly forgot to plan ahead again, but I can illustrate the improvements just in the past week by showing you these two photos of the same cabin during the process.   In the first photo, Jacob has already scrubbed most of the interior glue off and taped the windows to get ready for painting.  This still  has the ugly  30 year old headliner in it, although I didn't specifically try to photograph it.  And if you could smell the accumulated effects of thirty years, you'd understand why.  That stuff developed a life of its own in places.  We need stuff that's ready for new places, if you know what I mean.


Here's the same cabin a few days later, with two coats of paint and new hull liner.  It's getting better.   


We have a lot of wooden trim work to do.  The foam and vinyl we ripped out left gaps between the internal fiberglass and the edges of the cabinetry.  I know I don't even have to tell you that we are extremely limited as to sources of decent wood to make the trim.   We're exploring a few potential places for either mahogany or ipe wood, but it's still undetermined how we're going to address this one.  We might have to wait until we can get the boat to a more 'checkbook friendly' location.     And no, that location would not be anywhere within a day's sail of here.

I was just searching for something else in our pile of photos to show you, hoping for a nice island image like the very first one I put up here.   NOW you know why I primed you with that one, right?  So I could sneak all these DIY things in while you were still marveling in the contrast of that SUP photo.    

And I decided to show you one of my screw-ups.  I won't go into any of the really massive ones, but we have the room here to quickly explore one of the smaller ones.   

This started when I went charging down into one of the engine compartments recently to fix some thing that was misbehaving.  I don't exactly recall which component was giving me fits at the time, but it was enough that I was moving with some force.  And when I stepped onto the ladder assembly that a previous owner installed in this boat, it shifted underfoot.  If I hadn't already been panicked and grabbing things so hard they splintered I would have fallen.  Falling down engine room hatches is generally considered to be a really bad idea for a number of reasons.    I don't like ladders that shift under me.  So I looked into what this was all about, and this is what the bottom end of those ladders looked like:


I have chosen to remain uncharacteristically quiet right about here.  I will just let you ponder this image, knowing me as you undoubtedly do by now.   My fingers are just straining to zip off several sentences here concerning previous boat owners.  But I won't.   I won't.

So my first inclination was to address the immediate and apparent problem.  I saw this as coming up with a non-corroding mechanism to replace that steel hinge.  Or what's left of it.   At this point I was looking for fast and simple.  I thought that if I just cut some slots just so into a proper piece of aluminium angle, and then bent them just so... Well, Bob's yer uncle.  Right?

Well, he isn't, as it turns out.   Oh I had some great ideas here.  Fast and simple and strong.  I considered using the 3D printer to make some plastic gizmos, but alas, my 3D printer is currently undergoing an amateur heart transplant, and the amateur is waiting for parts.  And inspiration.  And knowledge.  Really what I need is a new printer, one that is plug and play and will ride well on a sailboat. 


All thoughts on a good, enclosed 3D printer for offshore life would be greatly appreciated, but I need to get back to the subject at hand.  Which is my little false start on the engine room ladders.

So, I drew this up in  case I got the printer fixed.  Looked like this on a cad program:


I know that you guys can look at this drawing  and at that photo of the bottom of the ladder up there and you'll see where I was going with this.    Yep, just junk the junk and drill a hole through the ladder, and we're back to being on familiar terms with Uncle Robert ( please see "Bob's yer Uncle" above).

I realized that this wouldn't work in plastic so went back to aluminium.  It was easy to lay it out and I made the cuts and then the first bend.


And it was no good.  That's not the complete version of the term no good that I actually uttered, but it gets the idea across.  Waste of time, thought, and material, and here's why:

I cannot bend the aluminum like that without a stress fatigue crack.  I tried several bends.  I heated it, I beat it with a hammer to compress it before bending it, I spoke to it nicely.  No use. I was unable to elicit it's cooperation on this project. 

Looked like this up close:

So then, for some strange reason, I got fixated on making this ladder swivel.  And this is my real mistake.  I was working to extend what was probably not a great idea to start with.  Flimsy moving parts hacked out of something else.  But at first I just wanted to 'fix the problem'.  The so-called "band-aid" approach.  Do people in the UK have a "sticky plaster" approach?    You can see what living in this place is doing to us, can't you.  

I'll make a morning's labor seem like a moment's thought and just say that I came up with these.


Do you see where I'm going wrong here?  Things are getting MORE complicated, not less.  This is not moving more toward simple.  Fun, yeah, I suppose so for someone twisted like myself, but it's in the wrong direction.  This approach now has me re-inventing the hinge.  To be fair, I did re-invent it all in aluminium.  And the solid bars were to be pop-riveted to the aluminium ladder, keeping all my materials in one big happy but frugal electron swapping family.

Then in a rare moment of clarity I thought to ask someone who knows what they are doing how they were handling this.   I have this friend I've never met whom I'll just refer to as "Frank" here.  Because that's his name, by the way.  Makes it easier to remember what I called him, yuk yuk.

Anyhow, Frank is also presently in the process of rebuilding one of these same boats.   A sister ship to Twisted Sheets.  One big difference between Frank and myself is that Frank has done this before.   He's rebuilt and refurbished a number of boats.  I have not.  We've become email correspondents, as we each have information and ideas that the other is interested in.  Frank has completely renovated his boat's engine rooms, and when I asked him how he got down into them he sent me this photo:


One step, one moving part.  No big swiveling ladder.  No clutter.  Solid.  Duh.
Now, our engine room bulkhead doesn't look like that.  We have a LOT more stuff in ours than Frank has in his so far.  But that only further supports this concept.  So I just totally declutterred this little part of my life.  Thanks, Frank.

We now have one of these folding mast steps in each engine compartment. Ours in the middle of that rear bulkhead, not low like Franks.  One needs to be about six feet tall to get out of our engine room, unless one has a prehensile tail.

Okay, that's enough for a Monday morning.  I didn't realize I had that much to type. Must have been the second cup of coffee.  Looking back over it I see that we didn't start out with a sunrise photo.  I'm thinking that blue water one will serve as an acceptable stand-in for anyone north of about 35 degrees latitude right about now.

How about a moonrise photo as consolation?


And this one, of course, is  a sunset.



We'll post the rest of those SUP-around-the-island photos next, unless something else interesting happens in the meantime.  And it sometimes does. 

See you Monday.

1 comment:

Mark Wabol said...

Gotta love those projects that will only take "an hour"……. eight hours later still working on the same bracket, happens to me all the time. Bending aluminum can be a nightmare especially if its 6061. Usually 5052 or 3003 are much happier to be formed, but its not like you can go down to the metal shop and just get some…haha. Do you guys even have a metal shop?

Love the posts…keep them coming!