Friday, January 31, 2014

Dirty Duh Zen

I hope you don't mind a lot of boat-related DIY stuff.  Because that's what most of this post is about. The boat taking up a lot of our time lately, and our time here is really what this blog is supposed to be all about.  I did manage to find a few more nice photos from Pine Cay to start off  with.  And we can just about always grab a sunrise photo if we remember to do it.  And  to pay attention.   Doesn't it seem that so much in life goes a lot better if one just shows up on time and pays attention? 

You know by now that this place is all about the beaches.  Yeah, sure, the reefs and the weather and the fishing, too, but for the majority of the people visiting the Turks and Caicos Islands, the beach is the reason.  And for  good reason. The place has great beaches. I know there are plenty of nice stretches of pristine beach all over the world.  I wish I had the time and resources to photograph all of them.  But  we  started too late.  We're going to just have to concentrate on those we can reach. I think it's possible that some people are more closely tuned to water than others.  There are mountain men, flatlanders, desert nomads and jungle tribes and there are ocean people.  La Gringa and I are built on ocean people cores with strong mountain components around the edges. I guess that we're all basically built out of dirty salt water and minerals anyhow, when you get right down to it.  What a terrible analogy.  Sounds like the basic ingredients for a brackish personality.  

Can you spot the kite and camera shadows in that photo of the beach at Pine Cay?  The kite shadow is just on the edge of the sand stirred up by the retreating waves.  The shadow of the Go-Pro is there in the tidal zone, on the medium wet sand.  The  two funny looking sundials are us.

For those with salt water souls there's just nothing else like the cosmic peace of having a few miles of beach to yourself for as long as you want to breathe it.  It doesn't take long, just a few hours of walking these beaches is like plugging a heart  into a solar charger until all five bars are full. 

I was recently reading an article in the BBC's online news about the quietest places on Earth. The author basically says that because you can hear a commercial jet aircraft for 100 km, there's no place habitable left where you'll never hear an airplane. Well, that's probably true.  But there are places where the natural sounds of the very environment itself become a primeval heartbeat that floats a mind  with a soothing rhythm that resonates within us.  We are water.  We cannot be immune to the same forces that drive the tides on this planet. These vibrations are part of the natural drumbeat accompaniment to our ancient song of genetic memory. The sounds of the sea and the wind are much more than sufficient to mask a distantly rumbling flight to Puerto Rico in my book. Maybe this is one of the few upsides of progressive hearing loss. 

Before we moved to these islands, La Gringa used to tell me that the best days to leave Pine Cay are rainy days. I can understand that now. It's tough to pack up the wet bathing suit and leave this beach for life in the city on a  day like this.  I look at these photos and think about just why we walk these beaches on perfect winter days pulling that kite along.   For us, it's an almost perfect combination of some of the things we love. The beach, the solitude, the ocean, the wind, sky, waves, and a few gadgets to play with. Heck, if we didn't have the kite we'd probably be building sand castles, but you get the idea.

We'd tracked up the beach pretty thoroughly by the time we decided to pack up and head back to Providenciales.  It wasn't a rainy day, yet it was still time to leave.  

We have boat work to do back on the bustling metropolis of Providenciales.  A lot of it. Boat and work are close enough genetically to be considered synonyms.  I think boats come with maintenance issues already built in.  I know the 'to-do' list never seems to have a last page. Back in a previous career I was convinced that mixing electricity and salt water was just generally asking for trouble.   These days I would expand that to mixing anything man made with sea water. The ocean is like a casino in Las Vegas in some regards...  it can be fun for a while and the experience might be well worth the expense, but the house always wins when it's over.  And sometimes you're just lucky to make it home in one piece.

It's not all work back here though, even tied up at the marina.  This part of our tropical life has some interesting moments, too.  Especially this time of year.   This is the 'season', as those in the hospitality business see it.   And that's really the only business of these islands,  and Mid Winter is the height of the season. Not only for those flying down for a week's holiday, but for those sailing south. This can be a nice place to tuck in for a while after that last long stretch of the Bahamas.  There's not much infrastructure between the Exumas and Providenciales.  And the next leg south is over a hundred miles of open ocean to Hispaniola.  Provo has the best infrastructure between Florida and the Dominican Republic.  Good place to wait for weather.  Relax, recharge, and re-provision. R&R&R.

Here's our view at South Side Marina so far this week.  A number of boats are in port. Can you spot La Gringa right past the transom of the S/V Toi Et Moi? More on this later in the broadcast.

We're trying to spend at least a few hours a day working on our old sailboat Twisted Sheets.  We knock a few things off the list every time.  We take Dooley the Delinquent along and he loves being on the boat.  It's an entirely manageable little kingdom to his way of thinking.  He has access to just about all of it although I have yet to see him try to climb the mast.  I've been actively not encouraging him  to get near the mast, for obvious reasons.  It's the closest thing we have to a tree on board, and we have to handle those ropes.

It's been over a month now since Susan and LA were tied up in the slip next to us in their boat Genesis.  Dooley remembers that the boat in that slip had a cat on board, and he still checks every single boat that pulls in there. He's looking for Lulu. He's peering in the windows, hoping to see a familiar furry face. He truly likes cats, despite having to accept the fact they just don't understand him.  He says that's just because they were raised in families that stereotyped dogs.  He thinks illogical prejudices can be overcome with personal contact.  He's one of those rare dogs that was raised by a cat that was bigger than he was. He keeps trying even though he always seems to be  the one who ends up bleeding in these relationships. Yet he still searches for Lulu on every ship that slips from the sea into her old berth on their way through Providenciales. Could Disney make a movie out of that?

While Dooley the Diligent is searching for contraband cats, La Gringa and I continue to strip our old boat down to the basics.  We've decided to clean the interior back to the fiberglass. That sounds like an afternoon job for a cleaning crew, doesn't it?  It's a lot more than that. This boat has foam rubber glued to the inside of the fiberglass.  I don't really know what glue the manufacturer used, but I wish I had some of it.  It's lasted almost three decades, crossed the Atlantic three times, and it's still tougher than ..... well... I'll leave that metaphor hanging. 

As you may have read, we started this by trying to find and eradicate musty old closed in boat odors. This led us to leaks that let in the rain water that led to the musty odors. This led to stripping the interior.  And from there, we finally realized that ALL fabric in the boat must go. That includes the curtains. Here's a shot of the soon to be discarded curtains, and the bare fiberglass interior that we're working toward, boat wide. 

And boat wide means twice as much on a catamaran.  Funny how the benefits sometimes seem to be a number less than twice, while every problem and expense is times two.  That ratio changes dramatically once away from the dock.

It's not just stripping the interior.  Almost everything on the boat either needs work, parts, or replacement.  Our dinghy developed a hole where it rubbed against a contraption some previous boat owner had invented to keep the boat inverted for travel.  It was a dumb system.  We've removed it, but still have some of the damage to deal with. We tried for two days to find a suitable glue for Hypalon. We can't find anything like that here, so far. And since it's a flammable glue, I can't just have some shipped down on an airplane.  Surface shipping would take weeks.  Welcome to our world.  I've been assured that good contact cement will work.  We'll probably find out.

The only good way to fix the leaks around windows and hatches is to completely remove them, clean out the multi layered, dried up, cracked and  misapplied gunk, fix leaks and problems, and then re-bed and re-attach them back to the boat.  This is usually a two person job, with one of us outside and one inside removing dozens and dozens of fasteners.

This has been leading us through a process I've come to think of as forensic boat repair.  I swear, on some of these projects I can trace the steps taken since the boat was new.  I can see the logic of what the manufacturer did and why.  I can also now identify specific traits of repairs by each of the three previous owners after the boat left the manufacturer in 1986. You can tell a lot about a person by  how they've addressed problems.  Patterns emerge. Resulting issues become common enough to develop working fixes for. 

Not too hard to spot the places where some dummy put a screw all the way through causing a small leak.  Getting the interior stuff off makes it a lot easier to find these.

We're not planning to re-upholster the interior.  We like the idea of being able to see the hardware holding the mast on, and stuff like that.  We also like the idea of quickly locating and fixing leaks.  We still have to find a suitable coating to cover this chopped fiberglass mat look.  A couple of people have had good suggestions, including an elastic noise suppressant coating, regular gel coat,  two part aliphatic paint, and white pickup truck bedliner.   I'm hoping for something that's not too noxious, that can be applied thick enough to cover this surface.  Maybe using a textured roller to apply it.  Embrace the unevenness.

We're making a real effort to fix this stuff right this time around. For example, I'm  punching out hundreds of blind nut inserts so that we can replace them with  nuts and bolts. This was a bad design metallurgically.  Stainless steel cups pressed into holes drilled in anodized aluminum.  This is  one of those rare opportunities that might justify writing tsk tsk.  Each frame has something like two dozen of these to be fixed, more or less.  Not heavy work, but it takes hours sitting on the dock with a hammer, punch, and I was using a socket for knocking the little inserts into.  You can see the corrosion around the holes.  Using this construction method pretty much guaranteed that these would rot away due to electrolysis.

And this creates a problem for us.  We have to repair all of these, and there are 21 windows and 13 hatches. Roughly 800 of these troublesome little widgets to knock out and replace.

"I'm fixing a hole where the rain gets in, and stops my mind from wandering where it will go"....(thank you Lennon and McCartney, I couldn't have said it better myself.)

If we could just buy replacement windows we would do that.  But they were custom made for these boats.  A long time ago.  In a land far away.

And for a break from the mundane starkness of our marina time rememember when I pointed out that photo of La Gringa behind the Toi et Moi?  Let's get back to the fun side of marina life.   She was about to try a stand up paddleboard for the very first time.  I was all poised with my little pocket Nikon in hand, all a quiver at how much fun it was going to be to get photos of La Gringa falling into the water. I won't say I was giggling in anticipation, but I'll admit to an expectant grin.  Well, that didn't happen.  She took to it like a June bug to screen door.

We had become temporary marina neighbors with the crew from Toi et Moi, and had been watching Susan cruise around the harbour on her SUP.  We've been eyeing these ourselves, wondering if we might just need a couple to take on board Twisted Sheets with us.  La Gringa asked Susan how difficult it was to learn, and by golly if she didn't get an impromptu lesson on the spot.  Quickly followed by a first solo.  I thought the fact that she hopped onto this board dressed in street clothes showed either a remarkable confidence, or ludicrous cluelessness.   (Here's a hint.... she's miles from clueless.)

I did get some movies of her standing on the board and paddling it, but for technical reasons I am loathe  to freely accept responsibility for, those came out blurry.  Oh, okay okay.  I screwed up and had the camera in Macro focus mode. There. I've admitted it.  Feel better?   I know I do.

Because I rarely get to use the word loathe, and it's so... loathsome sounding.

Okay after that brief stint of attempted jocularity I'll get back to the real subject of this post, which is my stupidity.   And I don't know what else to call it.  Well, I do, but I refuse to even accept senility into my vocabulary.  Let me explain about the dumbness part.

This is a raw water strainer.  I removed it from our starboard engine compartment, because I  found out that it was damaged.  These things  purpose is to filter out seaweed, animals, sand, rocks, small craft, sea monsters and similar debris from the engine's cooling water.  Very simple device, but it only works if it's air tight.  It's under suction.

See the break in the clear cover on the top of this strainer?  This lets air in, when the engine is pulling water through it's cooling system.  Air at this point is not good. 

The infamous "some previous owner" (and we both know who you are) had sought to "fix" this by just globbing it over with electrical tape.  Cheap electrical tape.  I first noticed this issue when I saw that the water output of our starboard engine was less than that of the port engine at the same RPM.  The water pump itself seemed okay, and further investigation found this broken strainer.  Like so many of the little issues we are addressing, putting a couple wraps of electrical tape around this is kinda like trying to treat a stomach ache with a Band-Aid.  Or a sticky plaster, if you're unfamiliar with the US generic term for adhesive bandage.

I started by just trying to buy a replacement top for the strainer, of course.  I'll give you the short version of that exercise.

Research on the internet revealed that  the manufacturer of these is in Italy.  To import the entire strainer, if I wanted to keep both engines the same (and I do) I figured out that it would cost me about $350 to get two of these to Providenciales.  That's enough to make me explore alternatives.   All I really needed to do make some kind of seal  preventing air from getting in. I mean, cheap electrical tape worked for some time.  It got us from Jacksonville to Providenciales, if you ignore the fact that I doubt we ever had both engines running for very long at a stretch.

So, I came up with the idea of a waterproof sleeve or cap to enclose this broken bit, and seal it all up.  By now you know my normal MO is to make something out of Starboard.  As  is so often the case here the first step was to sharpen the tool I needed to drill the hole the same size as that broken piece.  Rust kills sharp metal edges.  Really.

So, after taking five minutes to find the file to sharpen the bit that had dulled itself since the last time I used it, I drilled a hole in a piece of Starboard.  This was a good start.  But then I started running into the usual problems.  I needed to cut some slots in this collar I was making, to fit over those four support ribs molded into the clear plastic strainer top.  This will all become clear in a minute.  I hope.

The little mitre gauge for the band saw was broken. This is normal. Some plastics get brittle here.  A little plastic bit had broken off at some point in it's short life.  I had to fix this before I could use the band saw to cut the kerfs to make the sleeve to fit the ribs on the molded strainer top.

I couldn't replace the plastic part and didn't really want to (it broke, remember) so I figured I might as well fix it good enough to last a while. So I had to drill out the old, and tap it for my favorite fastener, 1/4-20.  This is getting pretty involved, for fixing a danged air leak, don't you think?

I'm going to skip through this a little quicker or we'll be here all day. I threaded a rod into the hole I drilled in the miter gauge so that I could use the band saw, etc. etc.

And Dremelled that off (I know Dremelled is not a verb exactly.  Well, not even remotely, but it should be a word, at least down here) to make it flush..

And ended up with a functioning miter gauge to use the saw to cut the slots to make the sleeve to seal the leak.  With me so far?

Then I kind of got a little out of sequence, and used the repaired gauge to cut off the hunk of Starboard that I was  working on.  This turned out not to have been the best sequence because I should have cut the slots in this while I had a square piece to work with.

 I then used a hole saw in the drill press to make this into a sleeve. 

Okay, so two hours later I have a sleeve that will fit the top of the strainer cap.  Eventully.  After more work.

I  sat there at my workbench covered in white plastic shavings and musing on the fact that I really needed two of these and would have to make another.  And that sweaty skin seems to be the only thing that starboard particles will happily stick to.  I looked at the fruit of my labors wasn't very happy with it.   I was still facing another hour of shaping and cutting and filing and sanding.  Times two, if I wanted both engines to be identical.  I was looking at this ugly little thing I'd made, and thinking to myself...."there must be a better way..." and this was my first major DUH moment this year.

I don't really want to elaborate on the self description that came to mind when I realized that sitting there on my desk was a fully functional 3-D printer. I was harsh in my criticism.  I called myself things that might rhyme with numb gas.  I used a compressor to blow all the starboard dust and debris off, and started over.  Completely. 

And once I got my head out of my past.... Designing part to a rough sketch took maybe three easy minutes.

Turning sketch into a .stl file on Autodesk 123D, maybe ten minutes but I'm not fully up to speed on this CAD program.  It should have taken five minutes.

Powering up the printer and generating the part I needed...just a few clicks and walk away for a while.

I packed that new ABS fitting with Marine Goop and pressed it on, and I think this strainer top is not only air tight now, but the forces of the wing nut holding it on are better distributed. The $350 I saved on strainers was half the cost of the printer in this one little job alone.  And I've now done dozens of these little jobs.

I need to rewire my thinking and make sure I first ask myself if I can print my way out of a bind before I start back with the way I did it before.   I'm making progress.  Really.  Next 3D print project is new stop blocks for the Lewmar hatches.  It all starts with imagination sometimes.

Wanna see another one of my early season duuuhmness?

I mean, as long as I am on this 'let's beat up on the dumb Gringo' kick,  why not.

If you read this blog much you'll know we recently installed a new composting head (toilet) on the boat.  This installation needs access to the outside through a vent.  I had installed all that on the boat already, including the toilet and the solar powered vent.  But I needed to hook up the vent to the head.  I had bought about three meters of 1.125 inch clear tubing at the local hardware source.  Three meters of inch and an eighth?  I'm mixing my measures.  That's like speaking Spanglish.  I think the DIY down here is getting to me.

Anyhow the hose had been wound up on a spool since it was manufactured.   Maybe it was wound up while it was still curing but this stuff has a memory. I had bought this over a month ago, and cut the pieces to length.  I tried clamping them to the cockpit table for days, leaving them in the sun, and several other bending ideas to try to straighten them out.  But no matter what I did they retained some of the curve from being stored for who knows how long on a spool.  This curvature was a problem for me.  And I couldn't come up with any way to fix it with the 3D printer.  Yes, I did mentally explore all the lazy ways out first.

I brought the pieces home and ranted and whined and tried pouting but none of that worked, of course.  It it rarely does at my age.  You'd think I'd have learned that by now.    I ran all out of cute in a previous century. I had gone through my list of mild expletives to describe this plastic and had started over after changing the noun to thermoplastic when it dawned on me, again.  THERMOplastic.  You do see the major DUH here, too, don't you.  Yeah, me too, sitting here smugly in the future from which this all looks so easily fixed.  This worked out to be a good idea and I am passing it along here just in case some of you someday find yourselves in similar circumstances.  You can look a lot smarter than I did.  You're welcome.

I  cut  a scrap piece of PVC pipe that fit inside the stubborn, curved tubing and  internally splinted it straight.  Gave it a bit of backbone, so to speak.

I used a capped piece of larger PVC that let me put the splinted tubing inside of it, and then I just filled it level full of boiling water.   And waited.

Oh, sure, I had to endure my typical ration of scorn and doubt from the peanut gallery.

Guess what... it worked great.  I let each piece cool in the water, and then when I poured it out I had straightened tubing.  After a month of frustration trying to physically force this stuff straight, a little heat did it in five minutes.

So that's two major Duh's already and it's only January.  I sure hope this doesn't go into the books as one of my stupider years.   THAT would be pretty scary.  I've had some pretty stupid years.

It's not very encouraging that I just about completely missed this sunset, though.  By the time I thought about it, the show was almost over. Perhaps I should just let La Gringa be in charge of the finer photos. She's better at it, anyway. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Devil's Cut Aerials

This is going to be a continuation of our last trip out to Pine Cay before the holidays.  I'll explain why, too. We just spent a month in the USA with our boys.  And one brand new grandson.  We're back in the islands now, but I had to tap into our last trip out to Pine Cay to come up with some posts during our absence. Did you notice there was no Christmas Stump this year? We had a white Christmas for a change.  First one in nine years. I had to wear shoes! And socks! And buy long trousers and a hat and walk around shivering all day.   It would be an understatement to say we're glad to be back in the tropics where ice behaves itself and usually has nothing to do with driving.

So, back on topic and continuing our little aerial survey of Pine Cay, we were trying to get some decent photos during  clear mornings before the day eventually got around to that annoying little habit of turning into uncooperative squalls by the afternoon. This was a pretty good morning, but the cirrus was starting to show up, along with some alto cumulus.  "Mare's tails and mackerel scales / Make tall ships carry low sails."    I kinda like the photo, though.

What that all means from a practical standpoint is that an old procrastinator like me  needs to get up and get started early in the day.  Because when the mornings start out like that one, there's a good chance that the afternoon will be doing something else entirely with all those atmospheric components.  

And I like to get started early.  Really.  I do. It's just that my definition of  "early" has a fairly loose tolerance built into it. It can change.

La Gringa had business on Pine Cay, which left Dooley the Delinquent and me free to mess around with the kite. We thought we'd see if we could get a  better angle on the little opening known locally as "Devil's Cut".  It's a dangerous little opening in the north east corner of Pine Cay. I've labelled it here on a Google Earth image for you..

To be accurate, Dooley doesn't really care all that much where we go on these excursions.  He's quite good at finding ways to entertain himself anywhere, within reason.  Sometimes he disappears for ten or fifteen minutes at a stretch, and just about the time I start getting worried about where he's gotten off to, he'll show up exhausted with his nose covered in sand. In this case, he was breathing hard and refused to answer any questions about what he'd been up to. I didn't see any blood, so I let it slide.  I try not to pry.  You know how they are at this age.

I would have sworn that we'd posted photos here somewhere of Devil's Cut from the water surface.  I did a search through the blog looking for those images, but could not find the one I was searching for.   I wanted to explain how I think this place got its name. From a perspective at the water's surface, this opening between two small cays looks like a good place to scoot through in a boat.   The water color here is usually a good indication of depth, and this water looks deep.   I thought perhaps putting a camera up over this formation might clarify things a little.

It was a pretty thin excuse to go fly a kite, but it was good enough for Dooley and me. We'd goofed around most of the morning and true to form it was clouding up pretty well by the time we made our way to the far, remote ends of Pine Cay. We were losing the light already by the time I got the kite, the string, and the camera all sorted out.

In addition to the squalls starting to blow through, we were having a difficult time getting the kite to fly steadily in  changing wind conditions.  I did manage to get a few aerial shots before we decided to head for the house.  This one shows you how the water color between these rock formations could lead you to believe that the water is deep through here.  And it is deep, for the few feet where it flows strongly during the tidal surges.  But look at how shallow it gets immediately once it opens up.  Pay no attention to the Bozo on the rocks.   He's just there for photographic scale.  And as a place to tie a kite string.

Off to the left side of this next photo you can see the real channel that everyone uses here.  It goes through a much larger cut called Grouper Hole.   It's got a lot more clearance than Devil's Cut.

While I was perusing  old blog posts looking for the Devil's Cut photos I wanted to show you, I ran across a lot of images from the time Preacher cooked us a traditional New Year's dinner on the shore over at Grouper Hole. Our little cookout was on that point of land right in the top left corner of that photo.  We had conch, and fish cooked in a pot sitting in a fire in the rocks.  We ate off of palm leaves. Nice memory.

I was thinking of wading across the little cut and taking some photos from the small cay there.  Then a squall blew through and I found myself frantically pulling the kite down and running for the golf cart.  I backed the cart into a thick group of bushes to shelter from the rain. Then when the rain stopped I put the kite back up, still thinking of making my way over for another perspective.   You can see where I found a good spot to back the golf cart in for some shelter.  The only spot around, come to think of it. And not really all that much shelter, now that I  study the photo and think back.  I guess shelter is a relative term.  It was slightly better in the cart than it was in the driving rain.  How's that for positive spin?

It was well into mid afternoon by this time, and and I was seeing one rain storm after another heading my way.  This next one finally made up my mind to pack up the toys and head home.  I could tell it had my name written all over it.   Until the thunder started.  Then it was Dooley's name, definitely.  After that first surprising lightning bolt, he was shaking so hard his footprints  were six inches across.  I watched a mosquito make three missed approaches on him.  

I'll confess that I used to make fun of Dooley's lightning phobias.  But after getting hit twice in the past 18 months, I've started listening to him. I think he's pulling my leg about dogs being especially sensitive to electromagnetic threat, but I don't argue with him any more.  We used to laugh at lightning.  These days, we boogie. There have been a couple time lately I wanted to climb into his Presidente beer carton with him just to wait one of these out.

Warning... the rest of this post is mostly about boat stuff.  DIY kinds of things. You probably wouldn't like it.  I know I don't. This life has NOT turned into a Corona advertisement.  But changes are in the wind.

We did get some more aerial photos on this trip, mostly of the sand swirls and patterns over on the beach side of the island.  I'll save those for the next post.   I'm sure you can tell that we're running a bit thin on the open water explorations lately.  That's because we're spending  almost all of our time working on Twisted Sheets.  Now, that's a subject I could write many pages about. We've been trying to spare you the nuts and bolts of it all. I can't really talk much about our present activities in Provo without talking about the boat, though.  It's going to be a long haul, composed of dozens of smaller projects.  We're finding patchwork repairs here and there that need rework before they fail entirely.  

For example, I was recently frustrated while trying to track down a small oil leak under the starboard engine. It's a simple banjo bolt, with two copper crush washers, and I couldn't understand WHY it kept leaking.   I learned how to anneal the copper by heating it.  I put a torque wrench on the hidden bolt head.  I took a small file and dressed the flat mating surfaces.  This is all simple mechanical stuff, but for two days no matter what I tried, this leak persisted.  Was driving me nuts.   Finally, I decided to remove the entire oil line.  This involves removing the starter and a number of bolts. And what I found was that the previous owner had glopped a badly corroded oil line up with some epoxy compound.  He never bothered to repair it properly when he got to a place where he could buy parts.  He sold us the boat knowing we'd get stuck with a major oil leak sooner or later.  And we did.   5.4 liters pumped into the bilge. 

Do I sound happy? I mention it here because of the frustration level.  I spent the better part of two afternoons trying to chase down this leak, never suspecting it was because of a bad repair a previous owner left for me. Bless his little heart. If I had known about the epoxy band-aid, I would have spent about ten minutes ordering the correct parts instead of several hours trying to figure out a leak.  Guess I should just be thankful it didn't let go somewhere between George Town and Provo.  And I am finding a lot of these scenarios. I guess the upside of this one is that now I know you can return copper washers to new conditions by heating them with a blow torch. This is good information to have.

This is the oil line in question, by the way.  A sixty dollar part, in the US.   Ninety bucks here. Plus shipping.  Plus handling.  Plus expediting fee. So bottom line, $120 worth of oil pipes cost me $234.58 Ah, sailing. Yes, the wind is free. The sails, however, are about five grand each...  I examined the same part on the other engine and realized that it, too, was about to break and spew engine oil all over the place.  So I ordered two of these.  Should be here next week.

I told you already that we've replaced one of the toilets in the boat with a Nature's Head composting toilet.  I won't drag out photos of that installation, but did want to mention another small example   of the 3D printer in use. I needed a transitional fitting to go from 1.125 inch PVC pipe to a three inch exhaust fan hole.  This is for an exhaust vent for the composting toilet.   The fitting that came with the toilet is too tall.  Keeps the door from closing. Visualizing what I needed, I drew it on a CAD program and sent it to the printer.

And when we returned to the house later that afternoon, the print job was finished and I had a new vent component that fit perfectly, held the PVC  snugly, and gave me plenty of clearance for the interior passage way hatch. I don't know for sure how many ABS and PLA parts I've now made for the boat, but I bet it's up into a couple dozen, at least.  And I know I definitely want to take the printer on the boat with us when we do eventually  move on board.

You can also see the bare fiberglass overhead that was exposed when I ripped the old vinyl and foam off the ceiling.  We still need to come up with a good way to cover this cosmetically.  Right now it's that ugly open weave fiberglass cloth look.  I need some thick gloppy paint or some other way of making it nicer. And smoother.  Two  part aliphatic resin paint has been recommended.  Whatever the heck that is.  I have a hunch I'll be finding out.

While I'm on the subject of that composting toilet, I been meaning to show you this photo. "Been meaning" is a Texas term, I think.  It means approximately the same thing as "I been fixing to..."     First some background.  These toilets need a composting medium in order to work.  Many people use peat moss, or even sawdust.  La Gringa was reading up on these heads on an online boating forum for women who sail.  She discovered that people have been annoyed by gnat eggs hatching in fresh peat moss.  I guess getting rid of the gnats in the boat isn't that big a problem, but she also learned that using coconut husks instead of peat moss eliminates the problem entirely.  And the coconut husks come packaged in compressed bricks instead of being loose in a bag like the peat moss. We like that better for storing it on the boat, so we ordered up a goodly supply of the coconut husk bricks.

And when I walked into the boat salon and saw this pile of toilet supplies stacked up, I figured I'd better make sure they all have the identifying labels on them before we stash these away in some hidden cabinet. Now, I just need to be sure to get the customs officials that can read English.

So that's mostly how our days have been going lately.  We try to get the house  maintenance and business related things done in the morning so that we can devote the afternoon to working on Twisted Sheets.  The afternoon rains are actually a boon in that they make it easier to find small leaks in the deck fittings and  I've been concentrating on finding and stopping fresh water (rain) leaks as a high priority.  The good news is that they're easy to find.  The bad news is that with 21 windows and 13 hatches, there are a lot of leaks to deal with.  For the hatches, I've found it easiest to just completely remove them entirely.

Removing the hatch frame lets me scrape all the old sealant off entirely. It also lets me inspect every single bolt and screw, and to replace those that need replacing.   And of course they all get wrapped in butyl rubber before being re-installed.  This is the largest hatch on the boat and is right over the inside helm station.

I'm also finding that most of the deck fittings are way past needing re-bedding.  The dark gray material stuck to the fiberglass deck in this photo is all that's left of what should be a solid sheet of waterproof gasket material of some kind. No wonder rain water was dribbling into the boat. The hatch to the left side of this photo also needs re-sealing.  And, I just noticed that you can see one of the  bolts that I sheared off when removing them. It's in the upper right hand corner of the photo.  This is typical.  This plate needs four new bolts and to be resealed.  And there are about a dozen of these on board.  At least. Excuse me while I go look up the definition of "patience" again. This is going to take a while. Ooooh..... there's "procrastination"... guess I went too far.  Maybe tomorrow.

Working on the boat down at the marina is a pleasant experience for the most part.  Now we're into the cruising "season", and there's a steady stream of sailboats and trawlers coming through over the next few months. Most of them will be headed south for the first half of the season.  These are the intrepid sailors who manage to free themselves from "Chicken Harbour" in the Exumas, and actually make it down to the Caribbean for the season.  Then in the spring time, we'll be seeing boats coming  through heading north as sailors head for their safe spots before hurricane season shuts the long distance boating down for a few months.

Recently we were privileged to have LA and Susan from the S/V Genesis tie up next to us in the marina.   We had a great week, showing them around the island a little.   We knew it was getting a bit chummy when we investigated a commotion on board and discovered that Dooley had decided to go visiting their cat, Lulu.  When I just typed those words, "Cat, Lulu" something from my distant past flashed between my ears. It was a little bit of a  Twilight Zone moment for me to realize my dog was involved with a cat named Lulu.  This was some kind of Zen or something.  A link to my earlier life.

But wait a minute, back in the here and now, I mean, for goodness sakes it's a monohull, Dooley!    Get back on board Twisted Sheets! I suspect the word 'cat' is causing the poor little fellow some confusion. He thought he knew what a cat was.  And they didn't have sails in his previous world.

Susan had to escort him off the premises.

We had a great time with Susan and her husband, Capt. LA while they were in town. They departed to the Dominican Republic while we were up in the USA getting frozen and snowed upon. Dooley has since tried to find Lulu, the contraband cat on another boat docked in the same spot. Or was that the felonious feline?

Most of these afternoons tend to come drifting to a natural stop sometimes around 5:00.  I typically notice that activity on the nearby boats has come to a halt while everyone heads up the hill to Bob's Bar.  Oh, that's the official name of the place, by the way. Bob's  Bar. I can't tell you how many fanciful and exotic names were tossed around up on that hill over the past few months.  T-shirt designs were discussed.  Potential issues of trademark infringements were evaluated by sundown barristers. Marketing and merchandising issues were examined in great detail.  The list of names grew, bit by bit. And finally, after many hours of sundown revelations, it's settled. It's subtle. It's perfectly descriptive, and easy to remember.

It's Bob's Bar.

 Here's the sign before it was carried out to the surfboard that's stuck next to the driveway.  I understand there are still some issues with the solar light, but don't worry.   You can find it.   It's the only surfboard standing by the side of the road with a sign saying "Bob's Bar" on it.   I'll get a photo of the surfboard eventually.

And Bob's Bar has made helped make the end of the day a real nice time to be in Southside Marina at sundown. And for some number of hours thereafter.