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 😉

One little letter makes a BIG difference…

Today’s post is about wenches, no wait, that’s not right!  This is a wench:

 tavern_wench_deluxe_dirndl_costume_oktoberfest_90201_r

Today’s post is about winches!  These are winches:

Little winch, big winch

Little winch, big winch

Winches are used to help pull the sails taut.  The ropes, I mean lines and sheets, wrap around the winch to reduce the load (pressure, strain) so that your average non-Popeye can haul sails up or trim them.  If sails are ‘luffing’, kind of billowing along the edges and make a flapping noise, then they aren’t being efficient.

 My dining room table was covered with winch parts!  Rick took them apart to get them working again.  Some of these babies cost over a hundred bucks!  Apiece!  But, since this is a ‘budget’ yacht, we don’t just slap down hundred dollar bills willy-nilly!  No!  We try to fix them first.  And by we I mean Rick.

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Amazingly enough, Rick was able to get them all working again!  One of them had small organic bits in it, like seeds, that were keeping the action from turning (I say ‘action’ because I have no idea what to call it really.  Rick kept putting oil on it and finally in exasperation took it into the back and pounded on it mercilessly until it gave in.

...a preponderance of winches and pulleys...

…a preponderance of winches and pulleys…

All the winches from the boat.

All the winches from the boat.

The mechanism is simple.  The wench rotates around a gear on a spindle – or maybe it’s the other way round.  You pull on the rope and the wench turns and the sail tightens.  As the wench turns a sticky-outy thing called a pawl is pulled over each notch but it will slip back into the notch stopping the wench from rotating the other direction.  It’s sort of like the gears in a watch, you remember those old-fashioned wind-up kind?

Here’s a picture of a type of winch used to pull boats onto trailers, it might give you a better idea than my sad description of the thing.

The gears make it easier to pull up the boat, hey, physics works!

The gears make it easier to pull up the boat.  Yay, physics works!

Once you have the sail or boom or whatever where you want it, you secure (tie off) the line.

Part of Rick’s dilemma is that he’d really like all the winches to match, be from the same manufacturer.  You and I may not care but it niggles at him that they aren’t all matchy-matchy.  He can’t see dropping money for a part that works perfectly well, though, so he’ll put the non-matching winches on the mast, where they aren’t as visible.

Look again at the pic above to see the size difference of these winches.  And this is nuthin’ compared to those on bigger boats!

Rick spends hours wandering around the internet looking for parts.  He found some at Lowe’s.  What is Lowe’s doing selling boat parts?  It seems they only sell stainless steel items near marinas, so if you know of a Lowe’s near water, you can go online and see if they carry what you’re looking for.  So Rick saved about 70% buying stuff there.

 Rick feels  guilty every time he spends money on the boat – its a cheap little thing and so easy to put more money into it that its worth, but honestly he pours over catalogs and online sites to find the best deal and he really knows how to pinch a penny!  The boat needs to be serviceable and that’s about it.  Plus, not only is Rick the ‘gotta educate myself about things before I make a move’ kind of person, we just lived through a horrible, horrible few years of ‘economic downturn’, which is political-speak for economic hell.  We were fortunate (our accountant says we are the poster-children for doing things right and managing our company through the ordeal) but I don’t think we will ever think frivolously about money again.

I was at our niece’s grad college party on Saturday (YAY RONI!).

Congrats to Roni!

Congrats to Roni!

A friend, Shelly, and I were talking about how we no longer feel we need a 4000 sf house and she said something that resonated with me.

She said that the crash really ‘knocked the ugly out of us’.  Shelly is right.   We relearned what is important.

During those years, I’d tell people:  We have a roof over our heads, food in the fridge, gas in our cars and our kids are doing great.  What more do we need?

And ain’t it the truth?

Except I keep flashing back to that hilarious Steve Martin movie ‘The Jerk’.

I don’t need anything…

…except this lamp…

…and this chair…

😉

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The story of throughputs.

They’re called ‘throughputs’.

 But since removing them was frustrating, backbreaking work at the butt end of the boat, I’m more inclined to call them … well, you can guess…

Holes across the stern, just above water level.

Holes across the stern, just above water level.

There are five of them.  Four are brass and the fifth is plastic.  Throughputs are like casements for the actual hole that goes through the hull and are held in place with nuts that screw onto the end of them…which after years of neglect are practically welded to the throughputs >sigh<  Various pipes and hoses are hooked up to the throughputs for things like motor exhaust and bilge pump.

Rick is down in the lazarette (aka glory hole (?), on his side, trying to maneuver the wrench into place, while I am on the outside, trying to hold the darn throughput still – to keep it from turning as he turns the wrench.

Its at a goofy angle, but the top brightness is the open hatch of the lazarette and the dark is Rick's arm...he is a champ, I tell you!

Its at a goofy angle, but the top brightness is the open hatch of the lazarette and the dark is Rick’s arm…he is a champ, I tell you!

Utter failure.  The screwdriver I’m using just slips off.  I try a pipe wrench and learn from Rick how a pipe wrench works:  Something about angles of the teeth and starting at the top and rotating downwards, which side to use and way more info that I wanted to learn about pipe wrenches, which doesn’t work anyway because there simply isn’t enough of the throughput sticking out.  No way to grip it effectively.

Rick notices a wasp nest has been built in the lazarette of the boat.  Lovely.  He is watching two wasps watch him.  Tension builds.

you lookin' at me?

you lookin’ at me?

Very corroded, its gotta go!

Very corroded, its gotta go!

We have traded tools back and forth for about 30 minutes now, when a neighboring boat owner tells us that there is a special tool for removing throughputs.  Well, of course there is…  It’s kind of like a key, but heavy and pyramid-shaped.

He is gracious enough to loan his key to us, along with a huge wrench AND a pipe that slips onto the handle of the wrench so lengthen it and gain more torque.

So, now Rick is holding onto the nut on the throughput, on his side, watching the wasps watch him.  I place the wrench on the key and insert it into the throughput and pull down on the pipe wrench til its vertical, then push the pipe wrench upwards, down one side and up the other, like a pendulum going from 9 o’clock to 3 o’clock on a dial.  Then I have to pull off the wrench and replace it on the other side and do that again, 40 times per throughput, at least.

I am running into the rudder with the pipe handle which hinders my being fully effective at this job.  I’m whining about it and Rick tells me to push it out of the way…um, yeah, it’s a rudder, rotating is what it does for a living!  Now, I’m really able to get a good swing with the wrench.  Put in place, pull down, push up, pull off, put in place, pull down, push up, pull off.  Over and over and over and over and over.

On one of my pulling/pushing travels, I notice a price sticker on the tool – it cost $50.  Wow.

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2 down, 3 to go.  Roadblock.  The tool doesn’t fit the middle throughput!  This one looks different than the others and there is a different tool, for each brand of throughput.  Well, of course there is…

So we can’t get the middle one off.  It’s less corroded than the others.  In fact, it’s not corroded at all, just grimy and tarnished.  I’m all for saving it!  Just a little polishing up and it will look good as new!  I hope.

The other 3 come off just fine, although the plastic one had to be cut off.  It was easy to do.

Meanwhile much, much time has passed and reading a novel in my beach chair is not the long, lazy afternoon I planned but only about 20 minutes while Rick is making huge amounts of noise and dust with the saw, cutting off the plastic doohickey.  And I’m too tired to read, so I take a power nap.

But, the job is finally done and we are left with raw holes in the boat, so more wasps can find their way in and build nests!

It is interesting that you can leave something alone for less than a week and return to find spider webs and wasps’ nests and bird poop all over it.  Ah, nature 😉                                                                                          btw, Rick just read this post and told me they are called “through-hulls”.  Through-put must be a carry-over from my IT management days!

The deck isn't this bad...but birds sure are messy!

The deck isn’t this bad…but birds sure are messy!

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?

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…

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 😉