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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Napa to Alameda and Murphy’s Law

I wave goodbye to Rick and he’s off!  Motoring from the marina in Napa, where the boat had been dry docked, to Fortman Marina in the Alameda Island Estuary where our little boat will have its forever home, as they say.  It’s about an hour from our office/apartment.

The trip was going to take most of the day, so I drove back home to await Rick’s call when he got close to the Estuary.  At that point, I’d drive to the Alameda marina and we’d drive back home.

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So here is Rick’s story: (I’ve added little notes here and there)

Took a day off work and we headed up to Napa.  Holly dropped me off at the marina in the morning so I’d have all day to get the boat to its new home in Alameda.

Although my son, Austin, had joined me for the trip up the river, he was now out of town and I’d have to go down the river to Alameda on my own.

Our little outboard was running good, had plenty of fuel in the tank and the plan was to motor all the way to the new marina. (Note: in the interest of being frugal, we purchased a second-hand outboard)

The weather forecast was that it would be overcast in the afternoon with winds expected to pick up to about 15 mph.

To be on the safe side, I brought my toolbox and sails on board.  (Note: this guy always has his toolbox with him, good thing, too, as you will soon see)  I installed the mainsail back on the boom but didn’t hank on the jib as I didn’t have a containment bag for it on deck.

Engine fired up nicely and I headed down the river.  I had my Humminbird 5” chart plotter on the steering pedestal working great.  I knew I needed the depth sounder as there are lots of shallow spots coming down the Napa River and the channel gets fairly narrow in places.

I used my cell phone to call the Mare Island Causeway bridge operator.  He was very polite and opened it for me and another boat.

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(Note: This isn’t a photo of the front of our sailboat…I’d kill for roller furling!)

Then I headed down to the Carquinez Straight and took a right turn into San Pablo Bay.

As I motored along at about 5 knots I noticed a sailboat behind me about .5 mile going in the same direction.  (Note: I’m not sure why Rick mentions this since the other boat doesn’t figure into the story at all, but whatever, it’s his story) When I was about 4 or 5 miles down the bay, about 1 mile off shore, my little engine began to sputter badly and then just gave up completely.  The wind had built and there was now an 18” chop that I had been bouncing through nicely.  But what it did was stir up garbage in the old fuel tank.  Even though I had a spiffy new spin-on fuel filter, it had clogged the filter enough to starve the engine for fuel. (Note: Rick didn’t say ‘spiffy’ he said ‘nice’ but he’d said ‘nice’ previously so I wanted to use a different word)

I had a spare filter on board so I went down to spin the clogged one off and it would not budge, I pushed, pulled, cajoled but it wouldn’t budge.  I went looking for my filter wrench but I realized it was not on board.

I wasn’t interested in hammering a big screwdriver through the filter to use it as a handle to rotate it off (even though this is a trick for oil filters) because I didn’t want gasoline leaking out all over the bilge of the boat!

Realizing this engine wasn’t going to start, I was glad I brought along a sail, after all it is a sailboat.  So, as I bounced around in San Pablo Bay, I started bringing up the mainsail.  As most sailors know, a sailboat bobbing around like a cork in water always turns beam to the wind.  In this position, it’s rather difficult to raise a mainsail.  (Note: The pressure from the wind on the sail makes it hard going to crank it up. PLUS Rick is standing on the deck by the mast while the boat is bouncing up and down in the chop.)

When the sail was halfway up I heard a loud bang and realized that I had forgotten to lock the steering well at the pedestal and the boat ‘backed down’, which slammed the rudder all the way to one side and popped the chain off the steering sprocket. (Note: Blankety-blank steering sprocket was installed upside down by previous owner and it’s a blankety-blank to rectify that)

 

I finished getting the mainsail up and secured it with the main sheet which brought the boat nose to the wind at which point I had no steering whatsoever.

I don’t care how many years you’ve been sailing, you can still be stuck in really stupid situations.

So, the first thing I did was go below to get my emergency tiller.

Guess, what?  I forgot to bring the emergency tiller on board. (Note: it’s in our office basement, lovingly given about a hunnerd coats of finish to make it glossy and shiny)

Now what, I’m scratching my head to find something I can use as an emergency tiller.

Looking through my toolbox, the biggest thing I had in there was an 18” crowbar, one of the reasons the darn toolbox is so heavy. (Note: I love a good crowbar, don’t you?)

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I was able to hook the edge of the crowbar sort-of into the edge of the emergency rudder post and managed to get some steering. (Note: Think about it…most sailboats have large steering wheels or a 3 foot long tiller.  Rick was using an 18” crowbar, so his leverage was minimal and he had to hold on tight and manhandle it.)

One of the things about sailing in the bay area, no matter where you are, north bay, south bay, east bay, the wind is always coming from the Golden Gate, which means I was nose to the wind to slog my way south to Alameda. (Note: Rick used a different word than ‘slog’ but ‘slog’ is so descriptive, don’t you think?)

Sailing a 30’ boat upwind means it won’t point very high. It also means it’s going to take a looong time to go the several miles I needed to go to civilization. (Note: Why didn’t he call the tow company?  He doesn’t really know, he just thought he could do it himself)

The nearest port of call to my position was Richmond and the nearest marina was the Richmond Yacht Club.  It took all afternoon for me to make it to the yacht club and I got in just before sunset. (Note: I don’t want to contemplate how hard this would have been to do in the dark.  In fact, I don’t want to contemplate much of this episode, I can’t imagine being out there like that.  I’ve married MacGyver!)

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I sailed in past the breakwater past the boat docks to the guest dock at the yacht club where there was a bit more maneuvering space. (Note: not all marinas have this kind of space to maneuver!)  When the people on the dock, who were tending to small dinghies saw me coming in they let me know this was a private yacht club.  I waved at them with my emergency tiller – a crowbar – and yelled, “I got no steering, guys!”

My first pass, I missed the dock, so I did a 360 in the turning area and came in again letting the mainsail go in time to drift into the dock.  Everyone grabbed the boat since I had no fenders or lines out and I jumped up across the cockpit to let the main-sheet go in order to depower the boat.

Ah, safe at last.  I picked up my cell phone to have the wife come and rescue me.  (Note: I got there way after dark since the car’s nav system didn’t realize the fastest way to the marina was via a tunnel that was closed.  Rick immediately fell asleep in the car, he was exhausted)

I realized the boat would have to be there overnight, to which the yacht club was amenable.  (Note: In fact, the next day he was a minor celebrity coming into the harbor ‘hot’ like that and not crashing into anything!)

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Even though I was able to replace the fuel filter, the motor still refused to start.  Evidently the bad fuel had gotten all the way into the engine and clogged things up.  I took a look at the steering and realized fixing it would be a chore because I had to release tension in the cable in one of the pulleys to get enough slack to get the chain up and over the sprocket.  (Note: this stupid steering issue was a continual problem until we, I mean Rick, figured out how to fix it)

The next morning, after being sufficiently frustrated that I wouldn’t be able to fix it in a couple hours, I called BoatUS and got towed all the way to our Alameda Estuary berth.  Evidently an ego adjustment was necessary. (Note: Honestly, this guy has no ego about anything, he’s so laid back about everything!  I, on the other hand, tend to get nervous easily, which I hate!  And try to fight since I, as you can tell, married MacGyver! If you have to be in an emergency situation, Rick is the guy to be with.)

My triumphant entry into Fortman Marina was at the end of a tow line and I could see my wife standing on the shore taking pictures and having a good laugh. (Note: I wasn’t really laughing that hard, more of a snicker and even then just a little one.  If boats are for fun, we’re having some fun now 😉

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The dingy little dinghy is launched!

After months of sanding and painting and sanding and staining and polyurethaning and painting and sanding, the dinghy is done!

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Look how nicely it fit in the back of the truck…notice how dingy it is…blechhh…

 

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Doesn’t it look like a raggedy mess?

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Here it is during its makeover.  Wood sanded, stained and polyurethaned, bottom primered.

The dinghy is finished but the sailboat isn’t, not quite.  Rick decided to bring the dinghy to our place in Discovery Bay, where we can at least we can go rowing in the Delta.  Its either that or store it in our backyard/parking lot.

Back in the truck it goes, with Rick whining all the way ‘its getting scuffed!’.  And us praying that it doesn’t slide out when we go over hill and dale to its temporary home.

After grunting and groaning it out of the truck and down the side of the house…

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…and up these steps…

 

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…and over the handrails, somehow…across the deck and then down a whole flight of stairs and a ramp to the dock.

…which didn’t happen.  The whole flight of stairs, that is.  Not that day, with only Rick and me to do the deed.

We ended up waiting about a month, when we knew some strapping young men would be to our house for Superbowl Sunday (no comments about how long it takes me to write a blog post, thank you very much).

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They made short work of it.

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Ta-da!!   😉

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…

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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 😉

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 😉