Last Little Bits

There were a few things that Rick didn’t do in the shipyard because he could do them once the boat was in a slip – like installing the new ceiling and carpeting the floor.  After that it was maintenance and some new equipment where needed.

The first task was the new ceiling.  He went to Southern Lumber which specialized in unique woods and purchased 2 sheets 1/8” birch veneer plywood – sadly, the Southern Lumber owners retired.

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Exterior grade plywood.   Rick had the original mahogany trim pieces from the old ceiling and decided to cut out the plywood in the same shape that the old ceiling had taken with all the mahogany rim.  He didn’t want a dark ceiling since there was enough dark mahogany and semi-dark upholstery in the boat already.  He wanted to lighten things up but didn’t want stark, glaring, plain white.  He put 3 coats of polyurethane on the birch plywood leaving its naturally light tone.

He made a template of each of the pieces he needed, cut them each out a bit oversized and trimmed them down until they fit neatly in the space.

He had a whole lot of ceiling light wires to poke through holes in the plywood.  He made some light pine trim to go down the length of each side of the ceiling.

Being a YouTube University student, he saw where one fellow did the shiny insulation foam on his ceiling when he did his boat and thought that was a great idea so Rick went to Home Depot, got a roll and tacked it on the ceiling before installing the ply.

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As you can see from the pic’s, it came out pretty nice for an amateur hobbyist.

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Now it’s time for the carpet.  He’d not cleaned the fiberglass floor from all the goober of his construction activities – a little stain, some polyurethane – because he planned to lay in some carpet.  He purchased nice-looking deep green carpet exterior grade at HomeDepot, cut it out and installed it with Velcro strips so that, if it got flooded (happened twice), it could be removed and dried out without getting moldy.  He also put carpet on the shelves behind the settee and dining table.  It came out looking very nice and clean.

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The only left was getting the curtains…ah, yes, the curtains.  There weren’t any.  But Rick had gotten some lovely Tommy Bahama material that was used for the cushions and some pillows and he was antsy about getting curtains.

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I’m not much of a seamstress, nor am I a tailor.  I’m more of a, ummm, constructionist?  I’m good at creating the costume that will be used a few times.

But I did make some ‘curtains’ to go in the V-berth to hide the ugly white sides.  They were gathered, stapled at the top and simply hung.  Don’t look too closely at them and they are perfect!

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Rick wanted curtains for the main cabin and the head (bathroom, for you landlubbers).  So we talked about how to hang the rods and what style of curtain, etc.  Rick’s mom sewed the boat’s logo on some swatches of material to be inserted into the curtains.

We measured the areas and I started sewing.  About a year later.  So far I’ve sewed one side of the curtain for one window.

But, hey, he hasn’t purchased the stuff to actually install the curtains so it’s all good, right?  😉

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Back in the water!

The outside of the boat is DONE – sanded, primered, caulked, refinished, painted.  The mast is back on with a fresh coat of paint, too.

We are ready to put ‘er back in the water.

Launching has to be timed perfectly.  There are 4 important factors to consider:

  1. Schedule at Rick’s work
  2. Schedule at the Napa marina
  3. Schedule of the tides
  4. Schedule of the wife, me

Rick needed to plan the boat launch so that he could move WITH the tide, not against it—primarily because the outboard motor is wimpy with a capital W.  No sense in making the trip harder, right?

The Marina’s launch truck had to be available, Rick had to plan his work schedule about 2 weeks ahead so he could be off work AND I needed to drive him up there and then pick him up after docking at the Fortman Marina on Alameda Island.

Putting the boat back in the water is a simple process.  The specialized trailer slips between the dry dock supports.

The trailer slips right into place.

The trailer slips right into place.

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The rig.   Oooh, look at our paint job!

Then the trailer’s supports lift the boat from the spindly ground supports.  The package then maneuvers around and backs onto and down the ramp.

Backing down...

Backing down…

Slowly being lowered into the water...

Slowly being lowered into the water…

She's floating!

She’s floating!

...empty slip...

…empty slip…

We get the boat gassed up at the Napa marina’s floating gas station and I wave to him as he motors down the river.  Bye, Rick!  See you in Alameda.  😉

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 😉

A hubby with a hobby is a happy hubby!

I have a very happy hubby. 

Rick is the type of guy who always has a project, working with his hands, researching this and that, reading up on repair, refinishing, installing, best buys, best product, on and on and on and on and on.  Naturally, with all his researching, I learn stuff, too.  Sometimes more than I need or care to know but I’m a good sounding-board, if nothing else.

He spent the whole day Saturday doing boat-related stuff.  Online he found out about a guy who was parting out a salvaged Islander and went to his yard sale in San Leandro.  Unfortunately, the floorplan of that Islander didn’t match ours, so the cushions and carpet wouldn’t have fit, but Rick did buy a stainless steel bracket for an outboard motor – paid $25 and they are over $200 new…it needed some spiffing up so, Rick spent the rest of Saturday night and some of Sunday taking Brasso to it.  I took a nap.  All his energy wipes me out. 

oooh, side note:  I think I’m gonna need one of these hammocks on the boat!  What a lovely way to nap!

I used to have a hammock, in a previous house, under a lovely trellis – such a peaceful place to be in the summer, listening to the lawnmowers and barking dogs and giggling, squealing kids playing on their Slicky Slides!  Seriously, though, I had some super-duper Sunday naps out there on my green and white hammock from Crate and Barrel.

After a bit, he came into the bedroom, lay down and started talking about all the different options for a motor…I’m sure I was asleep for some of it!  In fact, I dreamed I was typing what he was saying and started laughing about a typo (I know – boring dream) which made me laugh in my sleep, which made him figure out I was not paying very close attention, heehee. 

Anyway, the bracket connects the outboard motor to the boat and allows it to be lifted out of the water when we don’t need it.  It’s spring-loaded so it will take some of the weight off the engine when we lever it up and down.  Of course, when he bought the bracket he hadn’t yet completely decided whether or not to get an inboard or an outboard – but he figured he could clean it up and fix a spring and resell it.

Rick also went to the dry-dock facility in Napa and talked with them about the logistics of getting the boat there and costs associated with taking it out of the water, loading it onto supports and then, when Rick is done, putting it back in the water.  They call that a ‘round trip’ 😉  He was very enthusastic because they have plenty of room for our boat and he can work on it there and there isn’t some firm timetable that he has to adhere to.

Anyway, he’ll leave it for a few days at their guest dock while they prep the space for it.  They have to pull it out during high tide.

OK, back to Saturday, he spent a lot of time at the boat checking out the electrical system – doing some tests on it, mapping out where the wiring is going and where he wants to put new wiring.

 It was pouring rain most of the time, which turned out to be a very good thing, because he discovered a big leak in the bathroom by the sink.  The previous owner had done some stanchion repair and forgotten to caulk the bolts, which were letting in the rain. 

 Rick caulked it all up and it should be fine, now…we hope…

 He removed the old electrical panel and tried to clean it up but it will always look a bit dingy – it’s over 40 years old, after all. 

 Today Rick’s off to Fresno to look at a 2 stroke outboard with an electrical start and no tiller.  All those things to factor in: 

– 2 stroke weighs less but you have to put an additive in with every gasoline fill-up. 

– An electrical start costs more (and weighs more) but you don’t have to manually pull on a cord to start it – something to factor in when the engine is 3’ below you and you have to bend over the transom to reach it!  Can you say ‘awkward’?

– Tiller or no tiller?  Well, a tiller means you have to turn the outboard with the tiller, no tiller means that you hook it up to the wheel on the sailboat.  If the engine came with a tiller, then Rick would have to figure out how to disconnect that and hook it up to the wheel.  Again, can’t really use the tiller when you have to reach over the transom.

 He had found some used inboard engines but they were about $1500-2500.  Not including having to pay someone to install it.  Although we did find a guy in our trade program, IMS, who could do that.  It would be nice to have a ‘real’ engine and not look like trailer-trash on the water, but the cost is incredible in light of our tiny budget.  Oh, maybe ‘trailer-trash’ is an insult?  Well, OK, we’d look like rednecks on the water…

 Once the motor is purchased, Rick and a kid (our kids are 25, so they aren’t really kids, except in our minds)  will go up to Vallejo and install it, THEN it gets motored up to the dry dock in Napa where Rick will begin cleaning the hull and installing the new electrical stuff – lights, bilge pump, motor, electrical panel, water pump (I think, although we’re still talking about that).

 We’re analyzing the stove issue – alcohol, propane, CNG, electrical?  Propane tanks need their own special, vented space, which this boat doesn’t have, so propane is out.  Electrical would drain the batteries faster.  Alcohol is less dangerous but it doesn’t heat as, uh, hotly as other means.  Since we already have a CNG truck, we’re thinking of going that route.  We know where to get tanks refilled, after all.

 I asked Rick how he’d go about refilling the tank after docking in, say, San Diego.

He said he’d pull the tank and call a cab.  I’m like “And what cabbie is gonna let you bring some big scary-looking bomb-like tank into their cab?”  And looking for a pic of a CNG tank, I found a bunch of questions on blog posts where people are asking for how-to’s on changing their stoves from CNG to propane because so many marinas aren’t carrying CNG anymore…hmmm…plus a chart showed that CNG burns less hotly than alcohol.  Aaargh, you see how easy it is for my brain to hurt!

 There are some damaged stanchions on the boat.  Because we have to replace them anyway, I’d like to have a transom seat like this one:  It’s built into the stern rail system and would be such a cool place to sit…but it’s about $450, not including the cushion and back rest, so…not yet.  Budget, I tell myself, budget!

 Yeah, for those of you asking, that’s me on the seat…well, maybe not 😉

Days 4 through 6 with the Susurrus

The boat’s original name was Susurrus, according to the racing plaques inside.  Comes from Latin, meaning whisper.  I’m not sure we’d keep that name…

On Day 4, Rick went back to Vallejo and paid the balance of the purchase price, poked around all over the boat taking pictures and measurements, checking out the electrical stuff and loading into his truck all the sails and various items left in the boat. 

Rick came home around 7:30pm and all he could talk about was what he’d discovered – the brand of the marine batteries (Kirkland from Costco!  Who knew Costco sold marine batteries?  Waaay cheaper to buy that brand, about ½ the price),  the number of winches (8), the number of electrical outlets, how big the lazarete is for storage and what color we should we paint the hull and should it match the new cushions of the interior and what color should the sail covers be?

He also went to West Marine and got their huge catalog, so he’s going through it bit by bit and checking out prices and reading their articles, researching and studying – which is what Rick does really well.

Rick’s been online for hours looking at Craigslist and discovering that there are places where he can get rebuilt engines – so now do we put in an outboard for $500 or an inboard for $2500?  I think I know what we’ll do, can you guess?

The articles he’s reading show that he can even rebuild the winches, if need be.  One is sorta stuck but the others work smoothly.

 Day 5, we pull the sails and other stuff out of the back of the truck and check everything out.  For the foul-weather gear  1 jacket is ok but the other jacket and pants are ripped too badly so in the trash they go.  2 life-jackets are old and tired but good enough to be put to use in an emergency.  The life-pillow, whatever, is ugly and looks like someone peed on it, but it’s usable, too.  It doesn’t smell, so we’ll keep it.  We’ve still got our gear and life-vests from when we took lessons, fortunately.

Most important are the sails.  There are 5 of them and Rick is excited to see what we’ve got.

 4 are in their own bags, most of them stained and faded, but solid.  One of the bags is even stencilled with the boat’s name on it.  We pull out the first one and it’s dirty but in good shape – a mainsail – and it has the boat manufacturer’s info on it.

The 2nd is a jib, also in good shape!  The 3rd one is also a mainsail, larger than the first but it has a small rip along one side and will need to be taken in for repair.  It’s a Pineapple sail, a good brand, and they’re out of Oakland, so we’ll take it to them.

The 4th sail is the one Rick is most enthusiastic about.  It’s a spinnaker.  We haven’t learned to use one of those yet, so I think a class at Spinnaker Sailing inRedwood City is on our To Do list.  You can’t just throw a spinnaker sail to the wind and expect good results!  It takes finesse.  It’s a beautiful sail, wide horizontal stripes of orange, yellow, light and medium blue.  It’s been repaired numerous times but that’s ok.  It needs some repair now, but that’s ok, too, because they are so thin, like parachute silk, that I can do it on my sewing machine.  Well, I can once my sewing machine has been tuned up.

 The 5th sail is unusual, I can’t recall the name – something that starts with a B and doesn’t make sense…bowler? blurb? bouncer? bummer?  I dunno but somehow in my mind its related to throwing up, strange – ANYway, it’s used along with a spinnaker, on the opposite side.  Another sail we have to learn how to use – either that or sell it.  It was wet when we got it out of the bag so we draped it over Austin’s car to dry.

Now the sails are in the basement awaiting their futures.  We’ll have to get a bag for one of them – that bag will look mighty odd, all fresh and new, compared to the other tired but serviceable bags.  Hmmm, can I buy used sail bags?  eBay, here I come!  …turns out I CAN!  I just saw a bag for $60…too expensive for me, though, I suppose I could make one.  My sewing skills are somewhat minimal, but I’m pretty sure I can sew up a bag…with a drawstring…

Day 6 has Rick at DMV paying for the registration.  Here’s where buying an old clunker has its advantages!  Not only was the line at the DMV very short, the Los Gatos branch, registration for this 30’ sailboat is only $83 a year!  Now that’s happy news!

 Rick will be back up toVallejo on Saturday and Monday.  Will he buy a used outboard motor?  It’s certainly a lot easier to install!  He could do it himself – that is with the help of one of our sons – need a skinny butt to work down inside the lazarette.  Once that is done and some electrical repair, he’ll sail it – I mean, motor it – to the dry dock  in Napa.  Oh, what’s a lazarete, you say?  Its the storage area under the cockpit of the sailboat, accessed by lifting one of the seats along the side.

If Rick gets an inboard motor, then we have to wait for that to be installed before taking the boat to the dry dock.  And THAT means a month of slip rental at the marina. 

I think we might end up like many of our HOMETEC Architecture clients, buying a cheaper solution now and planning on upgrades later, when we can afford it.  No big, our egos can handle it 😉