The America’s Cup

When Rick heard that the America’s Cup would be held in the San Francisco Bay he decided he would see it from the water.

When we purchased the sailboat Rick had given himself a deadline that we’d have enough done to be able to be out on the water for the America’s Cup.  At the time, the race was a year and a half away, plenty of time!  But we barely made it.

Being fed up with the old motor (purchased second hand anyway, screw being frugal) Rick went to the Oakland outboard shop and purchased a branch new 15 horse Mercury kicker motor – called a kicker because it is specifically designed with high torque pushing a heavy boat using a small engine.  Hmmm, maybe it should be called a ‘pusher’ instead?

We installed it using all the same hookups as the old Merc had but now it was New and Dependable!

Rick and I took it out sailing a few times to get a feel for the boat, how it handled in chop and how it floundered around when there’s no breeze (give up and motor, already!)

America’s Cup was in September so Rick invited some family members, including his parents to come along with us.  Rick’s mom loves sailing and insisted on dragging Dad with her.  We headed out.  We motored around to the City side of Treasure Island and decided that now was not a good time to try to sail.  The crush of boats was incredible.  We all had the same idea.  Even ski boats were out there trying to catch some of the race.  We motored over to the Turn 2 buoy (southeast of Alcatraz Island) … where we puttered around very slowly like every other boat in the crowd, trying to avoid each other while staying in position.  Well, most of us tried to avoid the rest of us.

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Our best example of a close call was when a 50’ plus sailboat under full sail, UNDER FULL SAIL!, going about 10 knots sailed through the spectator fleet expecting everyone to get out of his way because we are “under power” and he is “sailing”.  He missed other boats by maybe 5’ with all the other captains screaming and honking at him as he went by – and he barely looked in our direction!  (This happened again when we went out to see the Blue Angels – tons of boats, all motoring at the slowest speed possible, basically staying in one spot’ish and some jerk sails through us.  Keep in mind we were hunkered out of the way as close to the sea walls as we could be and he has to be sailing right there…where we are…jerk…)

 

This is how qualified that guy was to hold a steering wheel in his hand!

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Side note:  Look how cool the Blue Angels look against the Golden Gate Bridge!

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All in all it was great fun to watch those big America’s Cup boats come flying around the Number 2 buoy, staying up on their hydrofoils around the turn going as fast as an offshore power boat.  You can see the guys on board leaning into the turn like they’re in a sports car.  Wow.

It was one of those once in a lifetime events that we were glad to be able to see in person.

Rick can check off another item on his Bucket List 😉

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From ugly duckling to beautiful swan…mostly…

ugly duckling

Ugly duckling

Painting the exterior of a boat is difficult.  Well, maybe ‘difficult’ isn’t the right word.  Expensive is a good word … awkward is another one.

First comes all the sanding.  What a messy job.  Rick rented a sander from the marina and it had an attachment that keeps all the dust from blowing around.  Marine paint isn’t environmentally-friendly.

Since we are on a budget – as you may have noticed – we had to do the painting ourselves.  Primer, then sand, then primer, then sand, then paint and paint and paint again!

The process involves scaffolding, which involves scrounging around the yard looking for A-frame scaffolds and long wide planks which go between the scaffolds and upon which we stand.   I’m a klutz so standing on a plank that’s about a foot wide?  Hey, there’s a reason I didn’t do the balance beam in gymnastics!

The paint is expensive and we pour in an additive to make it more fluid so we don’t get unsightly brush streaks.

Which leads me to the real difficult part.

Boats are glossy and shiny,  In order to get glossy and shiny boats, we must paint the boat (after 3 coats of primer) standing side-by-side; 1 of us rolling on the gorgeous blue paint and the other doing something called ‘tipping’, which doesn’t involve money.

You take a sponge-brush and, tilting the brush about 45 degrees, lightly, lightly!! wipe the paint that has just been applied, first in one direction then in another.  Horizontally then vertically, then horizontally…  The point of that is to keep the paint from having obvious brush strokes and visible lines separating sections of rollered-on paint.

Tipping is an art which my husband is good at and me, not so much.  So I got to roll on the paint.  I mustn’t roll it on too fast nor too slow, I must just keep ahead of the tipper, trying not to paint over each others’ hands as we go, trying not the step in the paint tray or step off the plank and trying not to get my hair in the paint.

Its windy, its hot and its dusty from people driving by on the gravel road…aargh.

Also, its surprising how many bugs love fresh paint.

We had to keep spraying and taping up tiny holes to discourage wasps – yet, they built large hives anyway!

Rick and I enjoy ourselves, despite the heat and the mess and the mess and the heat.  A boat owner came by and she said she had wondered if a husband/wife team could actually work well together on a project like this, but when she heard us laughing all the time, she figured we were doing OK!

By the time we got to the last coat on the last quarter of the boat, it was looking pretty good!

Swan!

Swan!

So, we abide by the 20/20 rule.  If you are 20 feet away, going 20 miles per hour, the boat looks pretty good.  Even if we do say so ourselves 😉

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.

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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.

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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?

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?

Yay!

Yay!

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 😉

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 😉

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!

>whew<

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 😉

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 😉