A bad day on the boat is better than a good day at work

Saturday Rick and I went up to the boat to move the outboard motor bracket down further on the transom and hook up the motor.  Plus I was going to swab out the bilge, which, I’m simply ecstatic to say, didn’t happen!

I was kinda nervous about 1 particular thing.  We don’t have a head…really… no potty onboard.  You gotta go?  Then hike up to the marina bath house.  I usually have a pretty short window of opportunity between the time my brain is notified ‘soon’ vs ‘NOW’.  That meant I had to prepare for an emergency situation arising, or maybe the right word is ‘befalling’.  Whatever…  But, you know, it was so very hot, that wasn’t an issue at all, if you catch my drift…

First thing Rick did was showed me that those switches he had installed actually turned on some equipment!  I heard humms and buzzes to prove it and even took a picture of water tinkling out of the bilge when Rick switched on the bilge pump (and what a relief that is, to know that the boat won’t sink the next time it rains!).  He’s so proud!

Rick got back down in the bottom of the boat and I got down on my butt on the dock and held onto the bracket.  I also have to place my thumb on the bolt to keep it from rotating and pushing out as he unscrews it.  Yeah, I look like I’m hugging the motor bracket with my feet in the water.

He got 2 of the bolts undone, but the 3rd nut got ‘crossthreaded’, long word for jacked, and we had to make a trek to Home Depot to buy a dremel, which is a fancy word for ‘rotating cutter of things like steel and wood’.  Right at Home Depot we saw a sign pointing ahead to a Lowe’s, so we went there instead – why they are within 2 blocks of each other, I don’t know.   We bought the cheapest dremel they had ($39.00) and came back to the boat – that’s about a 30 minute delay, right there.

Once we got the dremel unpackaged Rick discovered it was battery powered…good and bad.  Good because there’s no need to deal with cords.  Bad because, surprise, it had to be charged up!  These kinds of surprises come often in our house.  Rick once bought a tiny wireless keyboard for the computer/TV media mess, I mean ‘system’, that we have (3 remotes and I usually push buttons randomly until something comes onscreen)…and it wasn’t wireless…its still on his dresser…a cute little thing but purposeless.

 So, we plugged the dremel in and waited for it to charge.

But we didn’t waste any more time.  While we were waiting we thought we’d hook up the cables for outboard motor.  They are thick and very stiff and they have to go from the motor through the transom and up through the pedestal to the throttle and shift mechanisms.  Usually the pedestal is installed AFTER the cables are in place, but, no, whoever put in the pedestal was, I don’t know, from another planet? 

Rick gets down again into the bottom of the boat and starts to feed them through a hole at the bottom of the pedestal and up to the top, where the steering chain is attached to the wheel.  But, blankety-blankety-blank!  The hole isn’t near big enough!  The cables have to be fitted between 2 metal braces that are screwed together and then screwed to the pedestal next to the steering chain but about 8″ down the hole.  From the top, the brace can’t squeeze past the steering chain and from below the bracket can’t fit through the hole.  Head?  Meet wall.

Now what?  Taking the pedestal off and disconnecting the steering chain is a huge endeavor (at least it’s huge to us; maybe you would tell us it’s a simple feat).

Well, we ponder and think and swear a little…we decide to separate the cables and feed them through the pedestal and then try and screw the bracket to the cables and through the pedestal. 

First, Rick threads the cables up and we tape them out of the way.  Then we strip an old electrical cord and use the tiny but strong wires inside to loop through/around the bracket and lower and push and pull it into place so we can screw it to the pedestal.  Then we have to finesse one of the cables into the bracket and screw the bracket together enough to hold it AND use a long metal file to tap it into place – 8 inches down into the pedestal!

Then, we do the same thing with the other cable – oh, and did I tell you that the cables have a groove that must be perfectly aligned in the bracket?

We are sweating and swearing and laughing and it’s like surgery!  Heads bumping with hands and tools down in a hole about 6 or 8 inches in diameter, mostly blocked by chain. 

And we did it!  Amazing!  Stupendous!  Success!


Time for lunch…Subway five dollar footlooong…

After lunch its time to try the dremel again.  Rick gets back down into the lazarette and I sit on the dock.  I put my left arm around the bracket and brace my arm on my leg to hold the bracket when the bolt is cut (we have a rope around the bracket so it doesn’t fall into the water.  Well, actually it can fall into the water, but it won’t sink to the bottom never to be seen again.).  Then I put my thumb on the bolt being cut.

Ouch, it heats up from the dremeling.  Stop and go get a towel… Back to sitting on the dock of the bay…  The dremel does the job!  Yay for powertools! 

We mark the new locations for the bolts, put the bracket back on the transom in a lower position and bolt the outboard motor in place.  Stand back and view our work.   Phooey.  The propeller is still not low enough in the water!  But there’s no room to lower the bracket any further.  Then it hits us.  The 400lb inboard motor is gone.  Our little boat isn’t sitting as low in the water as it would have with that 400lb mass.  Duh!  Ballast is the answer.  Plus all the other provisions we’d have and tanks of gas and water will make a big difference.  No worries.

It’s supposed to rain later this week so Rick dug out old caulking and added new along an area he suspected is leaking.  While he did that I sat in the sun and read for awhile. 

And that was our day 😉

Where, oh, where can he be?

Its Friday, do you know where you Significant Other is?  Mine is up at his boat, naturally.  Last weekend he worked on wiring and cleaning up storage spaces plus he and Austin installed the outboard engine.

This week he has to uninstall the outboard engine because it’s placed too high and so it’s only about 1 inch is below the water line.  Knew that would happen, didn’t you…

I’ll be going up with him tomorrow to help re-install the outboard, but the rest of the time I’m hoping to lounge on the deck reading a juicy thriller!  The weather should be PERFECT!

He comes home from his labors exhausted but happy, telling me all about trying to pull the old wiring out, ultimately giving up and cutting it off because its gotten stuck somewhere deep in the nether regions of the boat.

…or sponging out the leaky areas (come to think of it, he did mention that little task to me.  I might not be spending as much time dozing on the deck as I’d hoped).  Remind me to take up some protective gloves…

He peruses the West Marine catalog like some men go through theVictoria’s Secret catalog.

 Here are some ‘before and after’ pictures to show just how industrious Rick has been!

You want some rubber gloves that are so cool you almost forget you’re cleaning?  Here’s the link:  http://www.etsy.com/listing/88906122/diva-gloves-to-wash-dishes-and-clean?ref=&sref=

My sister gave me a pair and they are black with leopard/tiger print cuffs.  When I wear them with my pearls I feel just like Martha Stewart 😉

Murphy’s Law, its how we roll

Rick bought a ‘bus’ so that the instruments are plugged into this at the switch panel and then the wires go to the batteries (or something along those lines, don’t ask me for details!).  That way, when an instrument must be replaced or upgraded it will be easy to pop them out and in. He even made his own ‘wiring harness’ tying everything together neatly. 

Naturally, because this is the way our lives work, he put the new switches in upside down – we looked at the switches and tried to figure out which way was on and which was off.  Finally, he figured it out – there is a tiny, tiny, itsy-bitsy, almost invisible notch at the ‘off’ side – but not before he’d already put everything together.  The switches themselves weren’t a big deal since they simply screw in or out.  But, the ‘bus’ was ‘gorilla glued’ on and getting it off?  Well, that wasn’t going to happen.  Fortunately, Rick was able to rotate the switches but it’s a VERY close fit…and now, the switches are upside down, oh, bother!

 And, naturally, that steel bracket Rick spent so much time polishing up?  Well, its too small for the outboard motor.  The bolt holes don’t line up with each other…so…good thing he only paid $25 and now he’s off to find another bracket – paying 3x what the smaller bracket cost BUT still only ¼ of what a new bracket would set us back.  Gotta look at the bright side, you know.  Rick will post the smaller one for sale on Craigslist.


Discovered that there is a gas filter on board!  Then when cleaning it up – thinking that he was saving having to buy another one for 100 bucks, he sees that the inside factory paint is flaking off…not a good idea to gunk up the fuel that way, so the old gas filter gets tossed, bummer.

 He’s made up drawings of the boat and motor and waterline and where everything lands when the motor is installed.  He’s very graphic.  Architect, you know…

He’s also cheap.  Instead of buying the proper color of brown and white wiring for something or other at the expensive marine supply store, he purchased brown wiring from Lowe’s and he’ll take a silver Sharpie down the length of it, I did say ‘cheap’, didn’t I?

We’re also thinking of the timing and order of painting – like do we paint from the bottom up?  From the top down?  Wait to do the deck until the interior is done?  Do the interior last?  Oh, nevermind!  It can make my mind spin. 

Some of this stuff sorts itself out as we go along, so we shouldn’t overthink it too much.

Oh, and colors!  Blue hull with a thin yellow stripe at the water line and red below that?  That’s what I’m leaning toward.  There are some pretty greens, too.  Paint comes in quarts, ½ gallons and gallons.  And it’s VERY expensive…a quart can be $50!!!  It figures that white is the cheapest color.  That may dictate what color we paint the boat, sad to say…but it does explain why there are so many white sailboats about 😉


Not Rick’s preferred definition of progress

“I feel like I’m not making progress when I have to keep ripping things out!”

He was sitting at the kitchen table telling me about the mess on the boat when he said that…well, at least he’s not ripping out his own work and redoing it, that would be worse -I know, been there, done that.

This weekend was spent soaking up the oily bilge water and getting out the old bilge pump which was inexplicably bolted to the bottom…anyone think that’s normal?  It was a nasty business, but the marina provides oil sponges for free (to help keep boaters from messing up the water), so it’s just a matter of time and energy to do it. 

like this one... www.smartsponge.co.uk

Rick also bought yards and yards of wire in various colors so he can rewire the entire boat.  He popped off some panel and was horrified at the clueless splicing job previous owners have subjected the boat to.  I guess they didn’t have the money to pay someone to do it right but didn’t have the experience themselves. 

This is where it helps having a husband who is not only handy, but a licensed General Contractor who has remodeled 5 houses of our own.  Nothing was labeled, just a big fat pile of spaghetti.  He ripped it all out and tossed it in the trash.

The wiring will also be nice and neatly labeled and wrapped.  He’s taking the time to do it right and doing an electrical layout – think about it – there are things that run on the battery – like your car does – and things that run on electricity when we’re plugged in at a marina AND things get charged up and electricity converted in various ways.  So all those cables go to panels and switches and should be done in order and with common-sense. 

Austin went up with Rick on Saturday to help feed wires around and about.  Rick had purchased 2 batteries and wanted to get them hooked up.

Without an inboard engine, there is so much space!  Sailboats don’t have a lot of storage; they have nooks and crannies everywhere.  Some people make up Excel spreadsheets with all their supplies listed and the cranny each item is stashed in or else they can’t find it when they need it!  Especially if they are cruising for awhile.  We’ll be weekend cruisers so we won’t have quite the amount of stuff stashed in hidey-holes as they would.

Rick squeezed himself into the quarter-berth in order to get access to some wiring.  As he’s telling me about it, I started feeling claustrophobic, my chest got heavy and I had to take deep breaths.  The quarter-berth is more of a, um, dime-berth, ugh.

A side cabinet covers about 1/3 of the opening to the berth!  I don’t think too many people use it as an actual berth; it’s where they stick the bags of sails!

If there wasn’t a cabinet in the way, you could, theoretically get in there, but you’d have to be a gymnast.  You can go in head-first but then you’re stuck backing out and if you go in feet-first, there’s nothing to hold onto to help maneuver in OR out!  That sounds like a nightmare to me.

I’ve never been fond of sleeping bags, either, and don’t get me started on mummy-bags, I couldn’t even THINK of getting in one of those 😉