Monday, February 23, 2015

Storm Surge

We've been watching the Weather news about all the snow and cold up in the high latitudes and we're quite happy not to be shoveling anything other than metaphorically.  But we don't get away without any weather issues here, either.  Oh it's nothing like the blizzards in Boston or the temperatures in Toronto, but we do have these fierce sunrises on the south side of Providenciales.

Somehow, I'm not expecting much sympathy here from people looking out their frozen windows at over two meters of snow with more on the way.  I know it's going to be a stretch for some imaginations, but these days we start feeling chilled when the temperature drops down to levels that I suspect are still warmer than the settings on most home thermostats. The temperatures dropped into the low 70's here right before Jacob went home to New England.   Dooley hauled his favorite Colorado winter sweater out of his suitcase to help Jacob mentally prepare for the cold.

We're just getting to the end of a nice little two day storm that blew through here over the weekend.   The original forecasts were for almost 40 knots of wind, although I don't think we saw quite that much.  Such a storm forecast coming at the beginning of the yearly cruising season produced a bit of a crowd at South Side Marina.  Anticipating strong winds and seas from the north, sailors were looking for places to hide from the storm.  Every single slip at Bob's marina was filled.  South Side Marina is sheltered from the worst of our north and north east winds.  It's a good place to hang out in a blow.  Here's a view looking upwind, into the salina.  You can see what the wind is doing to this protected water.  We heard it was pretty grim on the north side of the island but we were too tied up in our own little world to drive over to look.   It was bad enough here.

We  decided to see if we could get some aerial photos during the storm.  You might remember that I've now got three kites picked for various wind conditions.  I've got a big 12 ft. delta style that will fly and lift a camera in six knots of wind.  This covers me on mild days.  And that kite gets very little use.   Next in line is our standard 9 ft. delta.  This one is good from around 10 knots up to near 20. We use that kite most of the time. But I've also got a small parafoil kite that I've been told should hold together up to 30 knots.   We decided to see how it would handle these conditions.  We had a nice little storm to test it with.  The parafoil kite fits into that bag. Nice package. 

And it worked.  We managed to get some useful photos in driving rain and wind gusts to 30 knots.   Here's South Side Marina full of boats riding out the storm.

I'm  not sure what kind of photos we were expecting in these conditions, but we were pleasantly surprised to get any at all.  I used 200 lb. dacron line, and had to wear gloves to handle it.   The parafoil kite handled the wind, although the rain,  reduced light, and platform motion didn't produce our usual tropical scenery. The strain from the wind and constant gusts got to me very quickly, and I took a wrap around one of Bob's parking lot fence rails to control it.

I was expecting something to come loose from the KAP setup with all the violent motion we were seeing from the ground.  Here's a view from the camera pointing toward the kite. The KAP setup is usually  50 to 100 ft. down the string from the kite itself.    You can see  how everything was tilted at an extreme angle due to the wind velocity.

That's a view looking west from South Side Marina, showing some of the Discovery Bay canal system. Gnarly day. And I am almost certain I would never have been able to get any useful photos if we'd been using any drone that I could afford. There's just something to be said for simplicity.

Now I didn't want you to think that Providenciales looks like those photos for the month of February.  Because it doesn't. We get these storms blowing through from time to time, and then the weather gets back to winter normal for us.

A normal afternoon at South Side Marina is much more laid back than it would appear during a storm.  We often set  up a camera just for the heck of it, but hours go by before any boat action so we never bother to post any of that footage.  I'll show you what  we mean.

Here's most of an afternoon at South Side Marina, with the camera attached to our boat Twisted Sheets.   The dive charter boats all come in shortly after noon.  There's a little story in this video. There was a cruiser aground just outside the entrance to the marina.  It's obscured in the video. The Club Med dive boat, "Batray" fouled on the anchor the grounded boat put out.  The Club Med boat finally had to swing around backwards to get free of the grounded boat's anchor line, helped dislodge the grounded boat and for some reason decided to come into the marina backwards, with  engines in reverse.   They spun the boat around as soon as they had room to do so, and the other boat traffic that was waiting for the mess to get sorted out all came in behind them.  LaGringa sped up the time lapse to make the hours go by quickly, and slowed it when the boats were maneuvering.  So that's what was going on in this video with the boat traffic:

Watching this makes it seem like we're stable when we're on the boat.  It's the rest of the world that's looking a little shaky at the moment.

Last week after the storm before this blew through, La Gringa and I  decided to see if we could get some fun photos by sticking a GoPro camera to the SUPs.  I stuck one camera on my head again and won't bother you with additional images of that ludicrosity.  And we tried using a suction cup mount on the SUP. Of course the first thing I did was attach it to the underside of the surfboard.  I got a few hundred mostly useless images of murky water because it was still stirred up after the storm.   I'm not even going to post any of those photos up here.  They are terrible and not representative of the water clarity here.  We also  tried sticking the camera to the top of the  paddleboard to see how that would work. We got some surprising results, although not what I was anticipating.

We continue to learn things about attaching cameras to moving objects.  For an example I can illustrate one of my own "duh" moments right here.   I had moved the suction mount from under the board to the top of the board.  I tied a piece of paracord to it as a safety line should it fall off.  Or in the more likely event of a big bald headed oaf falling and knocking it off.   This has been known to happen.

Can you tell how murky the water is?  It typically takes about a day or a day and a half for the sand to settle out after a storm blows through.  This was only a few hours after unsettled weather passed through.   If you look at that photo above you can see the shadow of the GoPro camera on my head that took this series of photos.  You can also see that the camera is not pointing just exactly straight ahead on the board.  I wanted it pointed straight ahead.  I thought I would just scootch up on the board and turn it. Wrong.

You see, moving my considerable weight that far forward on the paddleboard caused the front of the board to go underwater, raising the back of the board into the air.  And dumping the dummy firmly and completely into the ocean. The GoPro on my head was on a two second repetition rate and it caught this image as my grasping hands slid completely past the camera I wanted to adjust.  I think this is about when I got that unmistakable and momentary "Ah Oh!!" feeling...

You know the one where you suddenly realize what's going to happen and that there's not a danged thing you can do about it.

We all knew what kind of situation I was going to be in two seconds later, I suspect.

I mentioned earlier that we got some surprising results with the camera on the SUP, but what I didn't say was that these results were not in the water.  The results we want to show you were from the trip home from the beach.

If you're not familiar with these cameras, you should know that they have a firmware /menu  setting that  flips the image upside down.  This is so that the cameras can be attached to the underside of things and still record video right side up.  I had the camera set to be shooting upside down.  I didn't worry much about the images being reversed because I can easily change that with the editing software. When we loaded the SUPs on our vehicle to take them home, we left the camera in place and turned on. This is what it looked like on the board:

And this is what the ride home looked like with the camera in the inverted mode:

Yes, sure, we could have flipped it back over in software, but then it would just be like a zillion other 'SUP with camera on top of the car on a dirt road on a tropical island" videos, wouldn't it? I like this  better. And if you really feel the need to view it right side up, well, you do have options.   You might look silly doing it, but hey, your choice.

Other than little things like that, it's been a quiet week.   We got some some of that crystal clear weather that often comes the day after a weather front blows through and I tried the little pocket digital camera to see how it would do with night photography.  This is the night sky from our patio.   Now there's a view you haven't seen before, and now that I know the camera can handle it I might be able to get some more of this.   We have some incredible starry nights when the moon is away.   I just haven't tried to talk about them here before.

Other day to day mundane things include getting another flat tire fixed. That doesn't sound like such a big deal, does it? I mean, EVERYbody gets a flat tire from time to time, right? Sure.

But do you average one a month?  For ten years?  With five different vehicles?

This is bad country for rubber tires.

That's bordering on DIY so I'm going to grab this opportunity to show the sailors among us another little project that might be useful.   Rust stains on sails.  We had the sails off of Twisted Sheets recently to try to eradicate ugly things.

Needless to say, this takes a calm windless day.   We found out the hard way that things get real complicated when trying to lay out a big sail on a patio on a windy day.  Don't do it.

But for this experiment we managed to  grab a calm day.  This is our jib on the patio.

Apparently one of the previous owners of our old boat had rolled up the sail with some metal shackle or something similar in contact with the dacron.   The metal thing rusted, and left a series of stains on our nice white sail.   We didn't like that.   We had a bunch of stains like this:

There were a number of rust removing compounds included with the boat equipment, and I had already tried a number of them with mixed results.  Finally I noticed that the main active ingredient in the ones that worked the best seemed to be oxalic acid.  I needed to get the well set rust stains out of dacron sails.  I didn't need all the conditioners and lubricants and greases and oils that some of the rust compounds include.  I mean, after all, they're mostly formulated for iron and steel objects.   Sails don't need oil.  I bought a jar of the active ingredient without the marketing additives.

We weren't able to find a lot of information on relative strengths so with typical oafish overkill I mixed up a small batch and saturated it with as much oxalic acid powder as would dissolve in hot water.   I used a toothbrush to scrub it lightly into the rust stain.

And it worked immediately, if not sooner.   This is that particular set of stains after about 30 seconds of contact with the acid:

And this is the stain after a minute.  Notice all the small stains to the left of the main one are practically gone, and the main one is getting close.  I applied one more little splash of the acid to the stitching and about thirty seconds later the stain was just another fading memory. The next and important step is to scrub the entire area down with a mixture of sodium bicarbonate and water. This neutralizes the acid. You know you're done when the bubbling stops. Then rinse it with water and let it dry!

I could show you the last photo, but you already know what it would look like. A white bit of sail with no stain.

I wanted to end this post with some nice local water images instead of rusty sails, so I picked a few more from another little scenario that we witness quite often here lately. We live very close to the Caicos Marina and Shipyard.  This is one of the very few marinas between Puerto Rico and Florida that have the ability to lift a boat out of the water for repairs.  So it's not uncommon for boats with engine problems to get themselves close to us using their sails.  They  typically drop the anchor just outside the marina and call for help.  The marina will send someone out in a power boat to tow the damaged vessel in to safety.

This sequence is just another example of exactly that very scenario.  This sloop was unable to start their engine, and the forecast was for bad weather.   They managed to get themselves here by sail alone. In this photo, Jamie from Caicos Marina is  discussing the towing operation with the stricken sailboat.

He passed them a line and secured it to the transom of his boat and the bow cleats of the sloop.

And after a few minutes of adjustment he was able to tow the boat into the marina for some welcome repairs.  And you might ask why I bothered to include this.  Well one reason is that it's just another of the little vignettes that make up our typical days around here.  

And the other reason is that Jamie's boat is our former Contender 25 with the 300 HPDI Yamaha outboard that I am so intimately familiar with.  It's great for us to see "Off Cay" still out working and boating.  So many boats here seem to break, get parked on a trailer for repairs, and stay there.  For years.  For ever.  But not this one.  We're glad to have found a good home for the Contender as we moved further and further away from power boats and into sail.

We're continuing to spend the majority of our time working on the sailboat.  Most of the major systems are up and running, and I'm finishing up small projects and cosmetic issues.  I had already shown you photos of how a friend solved his engine access issues using mast steps.   I had decided to do something similar because it let me get rid of two aluminum ladders.  I won't go back and revisit that whole boondoggle.  I liked Frank's solution better, although I didn't choose the same kind of folding steps.   Frank used mast steps, and I used folding steps from a firetruck supply company.   A third of the price, two fewer holes to drill, I ordered a handful of these:

From what I have seen, this step is going to be  a lot friendlier to bare  feet.  It doesn't stick out into the area so far, and it's not pointed on the end.   I think this is going to work out well:

Those rust stains on the left are from the recently removed water maker.  I decided that I didn't like sea water that close to our solar controllers.  And they're slated to be moved as well, as soon as I figure out where to put them.

I've been meaning to post this photo for some weeks now, and it keeps getting put aside because it's unrelated to the other things I'm working on at the time. But I'm not going to let it slip any longer.  

Bob's Bar is surrounded by drop-down hurricane shutters.  People who gather at the bar often use one of the marking pens that Bob and Nevarde supply to write their names, boat information, or messages on the inside of these shutters.  When we returned from our trip to Colorado last year, we found  that some visitors to the island had stopped by to say hello to us.   We missed them, dagnabbit, but they did leave us a message written on a storm shutter:

Neil and Terri, thank you for taking the trouble to try to look us up.    We don't get that many visitors in this little out-of-the-way place, and we're sorry we missed you.  We hope you had a great time in the TCI and that you'll try again if you ever come back through.

Well that's it for this Monday's post.   We have a lot going on right now and I don't anticipate any problems filling this blog up with photos going forward.  In fact we're a bit excited about some of the trips we have planned.   And soon.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Board Silly

This idea of putting out a new post every Monday has us scratching our heads and keeping our eyes open for photos and ideas here.  We hadn't done many time lapse videos lately, and La Gringa thought that a sunrise over the ocean in motion might be a welcome change from the standard sunrise photo. If you click your way through to find the little box that takes these to full screen it makes it easier to watch.  There's a  cold layer of air from the north overflowing the moist air to the south.   Nice cloud action.  Oh, and the sunrise is okay, too.  

Sorry about the full volume, apparently it's either full blast or no sound. You  Tube is getting more difficult to deal with.  Sometimes I think software developers make needless changes just so they have something to work on and look busy.  Did you spot Dooley the Devious in the last frame?  As soon as he saw me messing with the camera, he was out in front of it.  Little scene stealer.

We've been putting a bit more time into the stand-up paddleboards lately.   We bought these Naish  Nalu paddleboards third hand from friends here on the island last year.   These boards started island life as equipment rentals with the local eco-tourism company Big Blue Unlimited.  So they came with some bruises and dings pre-loaded.  We're okay with that, because we knew we were going to be putting a few dings in them during our own learning curves.  

The above photo was one taken by Jacob.  I could tell instantly by looking at it that it was not one of my photos.  Know how I can be so sure?  Easy.   

The paddle is lying across the board and the photographer was holding the camera while standing straight up and looking downward.  Everything  is stable and smooth, meaning that there are no tell tale ripples radiating out from the board indicating shaking and displacement.  If I tried that, the photo would not be of two feet standing easily on a stable board.  If I tried that, the photo would be from inside a huge splash.

We just looked at this morning's weather forecast for the north eastern USA.  I think I'd better just move on to the tropical photos.  Quickly.  Boston is getting another foot of snow on top of the six already there.  

I only put this photo in because I thought it looked funny.   I'd been having issues with my fingers since I started trying to play the violin, but I hadn't realized  just how much effect it had on me until I saw this.

You know I'm kidding, right?   I probably should clarify this.  That weird hand was NOT caused by playing the fiddle.  So don't let that discourage you from trying, if you're bent in that direction.     Besides, lately we've been concentrating on  ukulele and mandolin.   It seems to be making our earlobes and fingernails grow, though.....

And what I really wanted to show you, anyhow, is not my deformed digit image but the reflection in the glass.  I stuck a Go-Pro camera on top of my head.  I had to staple a Dooley-Cam mount to my skull to do it, metaphorically.  It looked and felt way too far up into the silly zone for my comfort.  This is why I am only showing you the distorted reflection.  And even that doesn't do it the proper injustice it deserves on the ridiculous appearances list.

And right about here is where I learned another of those little life lessons you pick up unexpectedly along the way.  This one is about throwing a surfboard on top of one's head, while one is wearing a hard little camera case on said head.   IF this photo had its own audio, it would say "ouch" with exclamation marks. Followed by several short syllables with hard consonants that shall remain nameless for the purposes of this PG rated blog.

This one probably says it better, in silly silhouette.  It looks like Mr. T hijacked the SUP, but no, that's just what I look like with a camera on my head.  A camera that was well seated by a 30 pound surfboard.  And now it's almost time to move on from this subject.   I did notice one little thing looking at these photos.  I wasn't on my usual board.  

This next one is a photo of my board taken on a different day.  It's the one with the most dings in it.  A 'ding' is just a slang term for impact damage, by the way.   An old term from my youth.  That's redundant, isn't it.   I've gotta stop beating myself up like this.

Especially when there are so many other great ways to beat myself up. 

And while on the subject of old bored dings, that big white spot under the logo on my board is one that I inflicted upon the SUP and myself.  That patch is a repair over a nasty little gouge  caused by a digital camera in the front pocket of my bathing suit.  I will leave it to your imagination as to how a camera in my pocket hit that spot on a surfboard hard enough to knock a hole in it.  It also damaged the camera.  And me.  I had this great rectangular  camera-shaped bruise for quite a while.   That camera is gone now.  So is the bruise.  I patched the board.

Jacob also carried a camera on this jaunt and this is the only photo of how silly I look that I am going to show you  in this particular post.  I don't know why this makes me think of a coal miner fleeing the island...

 This is all on the south side of the island of Providenciales, by the way.  In case you were wondering.  On the Caicos Bank, facing the Caribbean to the south.  Looking at these photos, I can now see why I had this strange looking sunburn pattern on my bald head that afternoon.

We had decided to paddle out and around the closest of the Little Five Cays area. If you've read much of the older posts on this blog you will have already seen a lot of images of these little islands.   This is pretty much our local neighborhood. Not a bad playground, if you like warm tropical water and small desert islands.

The name of that first little island ahead of us is Bristol Cay, according to the Wavey Line chart for Providenciales.    We like the Wavey Line charts from a local boating perspective. This is based upon a lot of experience.  We've  seen a number of boaters come to grief down here by trying to use one of the various GPS manufacturers charts with their 'Bahamas also'  chips for navigation.   Oh, they have lots of data on them. But in some places, perhaps not enough, and the positions seem off.  We've used both Garmin and Furuno nav chips for the area, and now we use a combination of Wavey Line and Explorer charts.    

Here's a Google Earth image of the area where these photos were taken, with an approximated  guess of what our path should have looked like.  That's about a 2.5 km loop.  Theoretically.  

A true track of our path would be quite different, including getting blown downwind on each leg.    It was full of zigs and zags and splashes that just don't show up well on a dotted line.

We climbed up onto Bristol Cay, but we didn't have shoes with us and this little cay is all ironshore and a bit rough on even my feet.  Here's an image looking back at Bristol Hill from Bristol Cay.

I had the camera set up to record an image every ten seconds for the duration of the trip.   Since they're all photos from my head's perspective, they are all over the place in terms of stability.  Yes, I do realize the implications of that sentence.

La Gringa strung all the ten second still images into a short video.  Or a real fast slide show, if you prefer.    That's all a video is anyway, but you knew that.

So, here in a nutshell is our trip out around Bristol Cay and back.  I can easily spot the places were I sat on the board to paddle, and where I fell off.    

I confess that I wasn't thinking of a video when we were out beating ourselves up on that trip. We'd put the GoPro head mount thingy away in a bag with the dozens of other cool looking GoProp plastic parts that they supply with those cameras.  Now that we know that the human  skull and neck can be used as a camera platform, some possiblilities arise.   We also found a suction cup camera mount in that bag of goodies.  That immediately brings the surface of the SUP to mind.  So you can probably also expect some more strange photos in the not too distant future.

I hope you noticed that I managed to do an entire post without a single boat DIY or even a South Side Marina photo in it, for a change.    We are getting close to the point where there are going to be more and more photos taken from the sailboat.  She's approaching the point in this refurbishment where she's habitable again.    And please tell us what you think of the videos.  Do you prefer more videos, or do you like the still shots?   All constructive comments and suggestions are welcome.

well... maybe just one South Side Marina photo.   Since this is where we've been watching a lot of them lately.

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.