Fussing with the mast

The past couple of weekends have been spent fighting with the halyards – those are the lines that go inside the mast to pull the sail upI sound so knowledgeable, don’t I?  You’d never know that I just now had to ask Rick what halyards did.

The lines inside were hanging up on something so he couldn’t get them out, it was very frustrating and he was racking his brain trying to figure out how it’s done.  I mean, it’s not as if he’s the first person on the 7 seas to have run into this, right?

 He decided to see if his electric fish could be of help.  And you know it isn’t an actual fish and isn’t actually electric.  I pictured a little oblong thing with a battery that scurries down a pipe dragging a line behind it to the other end but NO!  It’s a stiff wire used by electricians to pull the line, etc, etc…  So it’s an electrician’s fish.  hmmm…

a much more interesting fish http://www.aquahobby.com


see how boring?  although they do come in bright colors, just like the neon fish!

see how boring? although they do come in bright colors, just like the neon fish!

So he was fiddling with the fish and realized that the end of the mast had a bump on it and as he peered more closely and  Lo! And Behold!  He discovered that the spot was a plug for a hole previously drilled to get the halyard out!  Minutes later, he drilled out the plug and used the electrician’s fish to pull through the new halyard!  Ta-dum!  …little happy dance…

Rick finished putting the forestay, backstay and shrouds back on the mast.  Those are wires that keep the mast upright.  Why the shrouds aren’t called sidestays is a question for the ages, I suppose.  Shrouds.  Doesn’t that invoke a mental picture of a pirate ship like the one on the wall in the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland?  Tattered sails blowing in the storm…  and again I digress…

I was looking for a pic of the ghost ship at Disney's Haunted Mansion and came across this guy who will paint a haunted picture of your house...pretty fun... www.HauntedStudio.com

I was looking for a pic of the ghost ship at Disney’s Haunted Mansion and came across this guy who will paint a haunted picture of your house…pretty fun… http://www.HauntedStudio.com

And there are ‘spreaders’ near the top which are used to spread (hey, a name that indicates what the thing does!) the stays out of the way, so they ‘stay’ out of the way, ha.


Spreaders are the crossbars. See the yellow tip? And you are getting a preview of the gray primer coat!

Rick has installed some extra lines so that he can fly flags and also put some work lights up there that aim down at the deck.


Flags flying…

Last Friday the mast was put back on the boat!  Did you know that the yard charges us $50 a month to have the mast sitting (actually its resting on sawhorses) beside the boat?  Now you do.  When we walk around the boat yard it’s astounding how many derelict’ish boats there are.  I suppose the mast-sitting-around-fee is to encourage people to get ‘er done.

Last weekend Rick sanded the dinghy and put a grey coat of primer on it – isn’t it lovely?  Such an improvement from the poor old thing he purchased off Craigslist, isn’t it.  Next is the dark blue on the outside with a yellow strip up near the woodwork at the top.  The inside’ll be white.

Gray primer on the dinghy

dinghy 'before' picture... dinghy ‘before’ picture…

This weekend, more sanding and painting of the Budget Yacht is on the menu.  I’m actually going up there on Saturday to help pull plugs out of the hull – one person inside and one person outside.  After that little task, I’ll be sitting on my deck chair under a parasol watching traffic – birds and boats – and reading a trashy novel 😉

traffic at the marina ;-)

traffic at the marina – can you see the ducklings?

Strictly Sailboats

2 weekends ago we went to the Strictly Sailboat show in Alameda.  It has new and used boats for sale and vendors with boat stuff for sale – from inboard engines to keychains, dishes to canvas cockpit covers.

We’ve been going for years and years but this was the first year we went as owners of a sailboat!  Oooh, aaah.  Bottom-dweller boat owners, maybe, but still.

I expected to find super deals on SOMEthing…we need so much in the way of outfitting the boat.  But, we bought nothing.  They had fabulous outdoor cushions made of floaty-cushiony-plastic stuff that cost $800, yes, EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS, for the cockpit of our tiny little boat.  Seriously!  I kept thinking I wasn’t hearing the saleslady right.  I kept trying to make the decimal point go over 1 place.  Yikes!

How much?!?

How much?!?

I saw someone walking around with fenders – those big oblong, pillowy things that hang off the side of the boat to protect it from bumping against the dock.  Otherwise known as bumpers! Yeah, a normal name for a boating item, how unusual.

Fenders come in so many pretty colors and sizes

Fenders come in so many pretty colors and sizes

Anyway, we didn’t see them for sale; I was hoping they would be cheaper than in the store – they can be almost 70 bucks for 1.  You can buy covers for the old ones – as long as they still hold air, they’ll do the job – the covers are almost 30 bucks.  Cheaper, yes, so maybe we’ll make do with covers for a while.

Back to the boat show:  It was a beautiful sunny day, not too warm.  We went on some of the boats, it’s interesting to see what others have done setting up their boats and it gives us good ideas.  One boat had a TV that swiveled between a bedroom and the living room (berth & cabin).  Great idea, but we couldn’t do that unless it also swiveled on through the bathroom, which is between the v-berth and the cabin.  And I can’t see us getting a TV anytime soon, anyway.

 We talked awhile to some guys with engines – inboard and inboard.  An inboard will cost about $12k installed.  Ouch.  Our boat’s too old to be worth that kind of expense.  We might upgrade the outboard.  I’d like something with more power to it.  The outboard we have now is about 10hp, which seems too wimpy to me.  Especially since we might need the power to get out of the way of something big…even though sailboats have the right-of-way, we don’t always get the right-of-way.

 One nice thing about looking around at all the boats is being able to say we like our layout just fine.  Unless I’m looking at a catamaran – which is what I want, what I really, really want – none of the sailboats made me jealous.  I don’t like heeling; you know what that is don’t you?  It’s when the boat is tilted to one side or the other.  Bottom line, I’m a klutz.

Here’s a used 34’ catamaran for sale and its only $125,000.



I like catamarans because:  1. They don’t heel unless something is very, very wrong  2. They are roomier than sailboats and, most importantly  3. They don’t heel.

 We’ve sailed on a few cats in the past, that’s how I know I want one.  However, naturally they are more expensive than sailboats.  They aren’t as ubiquitous as sailboats.  That’s what makes sailboats cheaper; there are sooo many of them in all shapes and sizes.

 My favorite place to be when sailing on a catamaran is standing at the back corner leaning against the rail, holding onto a backstay…hard to do on a sailboat when you’re heeling.  One day, maybe, we’ll have a cat.  But for now, our budget yacht is just fine.

 Oh, here’s where we had lunch – Bocanova.  We were lucky enough to beat the lunch crowd by about 3 minutes and snagged an outdoor table where people-watching was the best and so was the food 😉

Pefect day to sit outside and people-watch with a lovely glass of lovely wine in hand...

Perfect day to sit outside and people-watch with a lovely glass of lovely wine in hand…

Stepped, whatever THAT means…

Rick was very excited a couple Mondays ago.  A big milestone hit when the mast was stepped!  Yeah, I don’t know why they call it that.  The mast is popped off the boat and laid on supports next to it.  Stepped?  I suppose I could look it up…

First Rick and a guy, let’s call him Mike, because that’s his name, went around the deck of the boat to disconnect all the cables that support the mast.  Rick is carefully labeling everything so that it won’t be a nightmare to try and guess where everything goes – how smart!

Bundle of wires

Bundle of wires

Rick asked Mike to look at them all to assess their condition and see if any needed replacing…he said no!  That’s welcome news as the cost of replacing and repairing stuff is getting up there.  Some things require elbow grease and not much else but some of these stays and guides and pulleys and such are not cheap – $45 for a new one of these little guys.

Yeah, $45 for 1 of these!  Rick has noted where each one goes with blue tape.

Yeah, $45 for 1 of these! Rick has noted where each one goes with blue tape.

So how is a mast ‘stepped’?  A specialized vehicle drives up to the boat, loops a strap around the mast and pulls upwards to disengage the mast from the deck.  Then the wires and ropes are unbundled from inside the mast and disconnected.  Once everything is disconnected, the mast is lifted away from the boat and set on sawhorses next to it.  The boat is 30’ long and the mast is taller than the boat is long. The cost to pull the mast was $150 and it costs $50 a month to ‘store’ it.  As I said, the bucks are adding up here, bit by bit.

The truck...

The truck…

In process...

In process…

IMG_0912_3051 IMG_0915_3054 IMG_0916_3055

Rick is pulling out all the old wiring and will be replacing it with new. He’ll also be adding extra lights to the mast – to illuminate the deck and one that tells other boats we’re at anchor.  He’s also going to add some extra cabling so he can fly flags.  He got an America’s Cup flag when we went to one of their regattas last summer.  Right now it’s ‘flying’ off the light in our kitchen nook…

Cute little flag...hmmm, that picture is crooked again.

Cute little flag…hmmm, that picture is crooked again.

Rick has sanded  the mast.  Once the yucky paint and slightly corroded areas are sanded, it looks pretty good.  He’s already primed it and its going to be painted a boring, I mean lovely, white.

See how ugly and corroded?

See how ugly and corroded?

Messy, corroded mast

Messy, corroded mast

Unfortunately, with sanding comes the smell!  I hate that smell – Rick used to refinish pianos and this is the same darn smell.  I can’t figure out why since the pianos were all dust and mice droppings coupled with stripping off old finish and this is merely paint, for the most part.  Still it’s a nasty smell.

He also going to sand and paint the spinnaker pole, it might not come out as cleanly as the mast but a new one costs $180 so we’re gonna pinch that penny.

Now that the mast and boom are down off the boat deck, Rick hopes that there will be less purple bird poop on it.  Why purple?  Well, the birds are eating olives and the results are purple!  He has to clean up the mess each time he wants to paint/sand/stain, etc.  We might have to get a plastic owl or snake to act as scarecrow.

At least we don't have THIS problem!

At least we don’t have THIS problem!

We’re getting close.  It is way more encouraging for Rick to be in this mode. He sees the fruit of his labor with each trip, rather than leaving things looking worse than before or fretting about the rain leaking into the cabin, which it still is, a bit, but it’s not raining as much and the bilge pump is set to do its thing so the leaking isn’t as big a deal.

I guess it won’t be long now until we are in the water!  I suppose I oughta get to practicing my sailing knots.  There’s one for tying the boat up to the dock, one for attaching bumpers to the lifelines, one for flying a jib and MORE.  Its actually kinda fun and I’m sure I’ll be sharing that with you in a future post 😉

Its Potty Time!

Today I am sitting in the backyard typing on my laptop.  It’s a beautiful day, albeit a teensy bit cool.  I’ll probably only be able to sit out here for an hour before it gets too chilly.  Still, I’m outside!

Rick is outside, too.  He’s in Napa, working on the boat…still…as usual.  He reminded me this morning that it’s been almost exactly 1 year since he bought it.  The Susurrus has come a long way but there is still much to do.

Looking through the vines

You can see the masts on the other side of the grapevines.

Recently, Rick installed the potty!  Yippe!  That was a dealbreaker for me.    Rick put in a holding tank a couple weeks ago.  The boat was built back when it was perfectly acceptable to dump your waste overboard (or rather ‘underboard’ since it went from the toilet into the sea.  Now, we aren’t allowed to do that unless we are 3 miles offshore.  And I’m not going to go into the whole debate of how boaters really aren’t the issue as much as the landlubbers’ waste polluting the bay, although you can guess what side I’m on…).  So we have a new potty, new lines and a holding tank where none existed before, yay!  And after my embarrassing episode involving a powdered creamer container last summer, I am particularly glad of it!

Holding tank and pipes into and out of.

Holding tank and pipes into and out of.

Seawater is used to flush, see the little filter at top right?

Seawater is used to flush, see the little filter at top right?



The stove is in – alcohol, because that’s the least dangerous cooking fuel – propane tanks are pressurized, for one thing.  Many of the lights have been put in, too.

That was a pain, not because of the effort to put in the lights, but the effort to find the right ones.  Rick wanted LEDs because they use the least amount of power, but most of the websites/packaging don’t bother to list how many watts or lumens – I forget which one.  Dim light?  Forgedduboudit!

Darn it, it’s getting chilly.  But not quite cold enough for me to give up and go inside.  Once I go inside the laundry will be calling me, so I’m perfectly happy ignoring it out here.

He worked on refinishing some wood last weekend, for the bathroom cabinets.  Remember when he scavenged some stuff from a salvaged Islander?  Well, he’s using those pieces – cutting off the damaged parts to create the cabinet framing.  My man is handy, isn’t he!

Beautiful cushions, happy hubby!

Beautiful cushions, happy hubby!

Speaking of ‘handy’ here’s a picture of the Rick on the cushions that Cindy Trupski made for the boat.  She’s also extremely gifted.  Rick found the material online – it’s a Tommy Bahama fabric.

We are getting closer and closer to being on the water 😉

On The Hard

That’s what they call it when a boat is dry-docked.  And our little budget yacht is finally ‘on the hard’.

A couple weeks ago, Monday, Rick and Austin motored the Susurrus up the Napa River to the Napa River Marina.  And great news!  The motor didn’t conk out!  More great news!  There was enough gas in the tank to make it all the way without getting towed!  Until the turn from the Sacramento River into the Napa River they were fighting against the tide and it was extremely slow going…at that point, they were sure it would take 4 hours to get there!  But after the turn they started going with the tide and they flew, if by ‘flew’ you understand that they were going about 3.5 miles an hour – the GPS system gives MPH, too.

I drove up to get them and drive back to Glen Cove for the truck, then home again, home again, jiggity-jig.  The very next day Rick was back on the road because they’d scheduled the haul-out to be at 3pm on Tuesday.  Lots of miles getting put on Rick’s CNG pick-up.  Thank heaven CNG is way less than $3/gal…yeah, it is, really…PLUS he has a carpool sticker!

Now Rick has been up there on Saturday and Monday of the Labor Day weekend!  Sunday we went to San Francisco to watch the America’s Cup Series and the Blue Angels (fantastic, btw, we had a wonderful time – took BART up there, and walked to the America’s Cup Village – well, we did take a pedi-cab for a bit – and saw the Series’ awards ceremony and the Blue Angels, then walked back to Cioppino’s for dinner and took a trolley to the BART station, then homeward with the crowds and crowds of happy people).  It was a perfect day, actually.  The weather was so lovely everyone was in a terrific mood.  There were tons of people but we were always able to find a seat or a viewing spot and the City of San Francisco really knows how to direct crowds and cars and even puts out plenty of Port-a-Potties (which is, frankly, one of my main concerns).

We couldn’t see the race very well, as it was on the other side of a pier.  But we had high enough seats to be able to watch the big sails going back and forth.  And the mass of boats on the water!  Talk about crowded!  It was shore-to-shore with boats of all sizes – tugboats, fireboats, ferries, sailboats big and small, mega-yachts, fishing boats.  A carpet of boats on the water watching the race and waiting for the Angels.

Back to the haul-out…here is a plethora of pictures.  The marina has a long trailer that you push the boat onto and the trailer has a hydraulic lift which raises the boat out of the water.  Then they drive the trailer over to the boat’s storage spot and maneuver it into place – the Susurrus looks dinky between two 50’ boats – set up the supports, chain the supports together for safety (yet still looking very precarious to me) and VOILA!  It’s ‘on the hard’.  Why do sailors have so many goofy names for things?  Ropes are sheets – or lines, just to be even more confusing – the potty is the head, cockpit storage is a lazarette, port is left, starboard is right and such like that.

When the boat was on the trailer they gave it a quick power wash and all the slimy stuff came off, leaving only a growth of mussels along the keel which you can see in the last picture above.

They told Rick that the hull looked pretty good, no big blisters in the fiberglass or visible damage anywhere.  That’s a relief since we didn’t get a survey when we bought our cheapie little project.  Rick was also worried that the propeller might be bent.  Particularly since whoever owned Susurrus before were obviously not that great at taking care of it.  But, its ship-shape (pun thoroughly intended)!

When Rick is working on the boat, picture him standing 4’ in the air on a homemade scaffold consisting of ladders and boards or scraping old caulking from around the windows and various bits of woodwork at least 12’ off the ground – with all the side rails, aka stanchions, removed (!!!).  He’s driving 90 minutes up and back at least 1 day a week, usually Saturday.  Sometimes he’ll be able to spend the night and work on Sunday, too.

He ordered the paint a few days ago.  He figured that he’d buy the cheaper stuff since he’s doing the job himself and he’s never done it before – plus the fact that it’s a dusty environment and won’t be the best of paint jobs from the get-go.  And if you see it, you will exclaim with enthusiasm how beautiful and well-done the paint job is…won’t you…yes, you will…

We are going with deep blue body and a yellow pinstripe, with dark red at the bottom.  We can’t use light blue, psychologically, because that was the color of all boats we rented down in Newport when Rick was in college and, again, when we were getting certified to sail at Spinnaker Sailing in Redwood City.  And we see plain ol’ white boats everywhere so we wanted to do a different color.  The topside will still be white – bright, glaring white.  I’d rather have a dark green hull with a beige top but Rick talked me out of it.  I can’t remember why but it’s his project, so it seems only fair that he gets to choose the color – well, within reason…

Our budget yacht is a lot of work but Rick is happy as a clam and we are both excited to think (hope) that by the time Fleet Week rolls around next year, we will be ON the water watching – and trying to avoid getting run over by the mega-yachts 😉

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure

When I was in 6th grade we lived in Florida, in a triplex down the street from a place where people dumped stuff they didn’t want.  Weird to think of it now (that was back in the 60’s) but all us neighborhood kids would wander around the place and scavenge ‘treasures’…like game pieces and  dice and marbles and goofy things like that.  Seriously, its a sickness!  I’ll still hang onto every ball-chain keychain I find.  They are the BEST for hopscotch and I never know when a good game of hopscotch will come up!  I had a place on the windowsill where I kept my loot.

like these!

Now what brought this up is that Rick is scavenging parts at a sort-of dump for boats.

A few weeks ago Rick saw on Craigslist that someone was parting out an Islander 30 and called to find out what stuff might still be available.

After talking with the guy (we’ll call him Popeye), Rick made arrangements to go check out the boat – not just to potentially buy bits and pieces that our boat was missing (our boat, how fun to say that) but to see how various things were put together.  Like what does the area above the bathroom sink look like?  How is the lighting set up?  How is the septic tank laid out?

The boat was in the central valley, over the hill about 90 minutes from us.  Rick got there and discovered that Popeye has 20-some boats that he’s collected and parts out!  He’d bought this Islander 30 for about $2000 and had already parted it out for over 4 grand!  That’s a pretty good haul for a tired old boat.  He sold off the mast, engine, winches, steps, interior racks, stove, cushions, whatever can be removed

Anyway, Rick spent more than 2 hours with him talking and looking around and pulling parts from the boat.

He bought a bunch of small wood pieces to fill in areas on our boat that are broken and a paper-towel holder, some handrails and 2 large pieces of plywood…all for about $30.

Popeye knows the prices for all the metal on the boat; the aluminum mast, lead keel.  He told Rick that the lead keel can be worth up to $2,000!  He removes all the metal for recycling and then will take it to be demolished.  That’s a sad thought.  Especially when you think that it’s pretty much what happened to our boat before we were crazy enough to buy it!

Here’s a picture of the boat Rick was scavenging through.  He might go back to Popeye and buy a spinnaker sail.  Rick says it’s in better condition than ours, but it’s not as pretty – red, white and blue…boooring…  Naturally, that means that Rick will have to take a class on how to use a spinnaker!

Boat graveyard – or is it a smorgasboard?

Now Rick has 2 people who buy boats no one else wants and sells them off bit by bit – which sounds kind of gruesome, doesn’t it?  Sad little boats.   But, it’s a good deal for us since we are rebuilding our little Susurrus on the cheap.  Come to think of it, we aren’t cheap!  Actually, this is the best in reusing, recycling, being green and saving green!  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it 😉

Where to go on the 4th?

Last week we were wondering where to go on Independence Day and realized that question pretty much has a permanent answer:  To The Boat!

Rick is still working on it at least 1 day a week, sometimes 2 and sometimes, but rarely, 3 days.  There are some good things about being slow at work, one of them is time to work on your hobbies.  Of course, the down side to being slow at work is there isn’t much moolah to pour into one’s hobbies!  If he isn’t up where the boat is docked, then he’s sanding and finishing the bits and pieces here in our backyard/parking lot.

However, Rick still needs to devote more elbow-grease than money so off we went.  I and my still-relatively-new beach chair and he with his terry-cloth sweatband and pile of work towels.

We have a tarp draped like a Boy Scout pup-tent over the boom to help keep from getting sunstroke and Rick spent his time happily rollering and brushing finish on the wood from tip to tail, stem to stern.

He’s on the second coat now and this weekend he’ll put on the 3rd coat.  The outboard engine expert is meeting Rick there on Saturday and now we’ll find out what is going wrong with it.  Once the engine works (fingers crossed), then its only a week or so till he motors on up the Napa River to the dry dock and begins the dirty work of sanding off the old paint and giving the old girl a new paint job.

Paint is darn expensive!  The ugly colors are cheaper, natch, but I think we will regret not painting the boat a color we are enthusiastic about just to save a couple hundred bucks…yes, it could cost about 700 bucks to paint a little 30 foot sailboat and that’s with Rick doing the work himself!  Marine quality stuff ain’t cheap.  Oh, I know, you with your 75 foot sailboat might be snickering behind your hand at our penny-pinching efforts, so this is me, throwing a raspberry at you!


Anyway, here are some pictures of the woodwork that’s been given just tender, loving care by my husband.

You can see the stripper around the windows. The wall to the right is so yellow with aging finish. Rick’s taped off the racing plaques to protect them.

You can see the partially stripped wall, the ugly finish at the right.

Here’s the new stain, so beautiful.

Now that I’ve had my sewing machine fixed I’m primed and ready to make new cushions.

…something tasteful with palm trees…in a sort-of-like-this-but-not-really way…

I’m going to create patterns from the old material – if I could just bring myself to touch it 😉