Thursday, January 13, 2011

Good Day! Lots of work done.. but lots more problems

Today was a good day for me and the boat. I was able to get the 2 remaining hatch frames scraped free of old sealant and caulking so they will properly glue down to the deck when I put them back on. It was a cold morning and I awoke to find a huge puddle of ice and icicles from where the marina turned on the water on my dock to keep the lines from freezing.

I got up and went straight to work on scraping and just trying to get it over with. Its hard work and with the cold weather my hands are in constant pain from being numb and working the screwdriver and utility knife. I made some calls and am now waiting for quotes to send in the hatch frames to a local company to have them sandblasted and then powder coated black again. The original paint is chipping off at a rapid rate and they don’t look as good as they could so if the price is right we will have them painted.

I made some calls to West Marine and had them do some checking on me for our Garmin GPS Chartplotter which doesn’t seem to want to turn on for me. I have checked at the plug in that I have 12vdc and I do but the unit refuses to power up. I tried the factory reset HOME+POWER keys for 30 seconds or so and still nothing. Im researching to whether or not Garmin can honor the factory 1 year warranty but I doubt it as the West Marine guy confirmed that the serial number shows a manufacture date of 2007. There is still a dim hope that this unit sat on a shelf for 2 years but I highly doubt it. The good news is Garmin will honor the fact that we purchased this unit and will take ours and send us a refurbished unit for $500 with a 90 day guarantee. That’s not a bad deal considering a brand new unit will set the owner back $1800 so I guess we are heading down this road.

I also undid all of the steering lines today to get ready to replace them. I demounted the wheel steering until so I could disassemble it but I ran into problems yet again. I need to disassemble the home-made unit so I can remove and repair the Raytheon AutoHelm that is attached to said wheel. However, a few of the set screws that hold the whole thing together are severely seized so I ran it to a local welding shop only to find they were closed. Im considering checking into having this whole thing remade or just making another one from glassed plywood. The drum that the tiller line wraps around is slightly out of sync with the wheel and I think the whole thing can be made to steer a lot better. However, Im trying to save the owner money so I will just try again at the shop tomorrow to see if they can heat the metal and get the set screws out of there.

My problem lately is my infatuation with this boat. Im having so much fun that Im forgetting its not mine. I want to redesign so many things and change this and that to make it even better but then I have to remind myself that this is not my boat and the owner is already throwing a fit over the money he is putting into her. I have tried many times to reassure him that this boat is worth much more money than he paid and anything he puts in is just an investment into the boat and her longevity.

Jason, the owner has paid local author, carpenter and boat builder Scott b. Williams from Mississippi to come out and advise us about some of the damage and rot I have found inside one of the main hull beams. Im pretty excited about meeting him because I have read 2 of his books and been following his blog for about 2 or 3 years while he has been building a very similar boat but at extremely high standards. He should be coming out next week sometime when the weather is supposed to be a little warmer and better. Im also excited about the warmer weather because I have literally been freezing here on this boat and working in 40F everyday with inadequate clothing. Sure I could go buy more but at the rate of pay which I am receiving it would be literally several days boat pay just to get some good working clothes so I have decided to rough it out. When it gets warmer next week I will start preheating my cans of epoxy and hardener and try to keep them at or around 70F so it should go on nice and smooth when I begin glassing the wooden deck frames for the hatches to sit on. A lot of water gets trapped under here and I would feel better if they were sheathed in epoxy before I reseal everything.

Well that about does it for this post. Im headed to my brother’s place in Biloxi this weekend so I should have something fun to write about afterward.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cold and Wet!

Today was a tough day to get out of bed. The weather has been horribly cold lately, especially this morning. I woke up around 7am and took a glance at my digital thermometer which was indicating a snug 36F inside the hull. I really had to pee and it took about 5 minutes of thinking before I was able to convince myself to get out of my shell of blankets and sleeping bags.

I returned to bed and woke up about an hour later and I promptly hit the deck to begin working on the hatches once again. I was surprised to find a decent amount of frozen water in containers that had been sitting out all night thus ending the debate of whether or not it actually dropped below freezing last night. I worked hard until 11 at scraping off the remaining 5200 Marine Sealant, which is a mixture of silly putty and badass glue. Its extremely difficult to make it come off in large segments and I found myself with a small flat head screwdriver removing bits and pieces from all the sections of a 24”x24” hatch frame.

I went to the nearby McDonalds for lunch at noon. Not so much to eat but to use their free WiFi they have. I sat in my van while checking my email, talking to Adriana and researching a few things for the boat. I made my lunch which was tuna and salteens and I highly enjoyed it! Amazing that such a cheap lunch can do it for me. I need to stick to this because I have been spending a tad too much cash here and I need to save as much as I can for when I get to South America.

The weather has been very cold lately and even just sitting in my van at noon was almost unbearable after half an hour or so. I decided to leave after I noticed my MorningStar SunSaver Duo solar controller flip out for a second and surge my house battery to near 16volts! This caused my inverter to overvolt and my laptop charger stopped working for a bit. My solar controller will “float” charge at 14.5v but this also depends on temperature and it was pretty cold today so 16v might be normal. I need to do some research about possibly some type of circuit protection to ensure nothing higher than 13v hits my lights and inverter.

The boat has been coming slowly as I have been finding a bunch of problems. It’s a 42ft boat and there are a ton of systems that need to be checked and repaired. Right now Im after the electrical system and deck hatches because they leak like crazy. The electrical is fine and working but I just don’t like some of the setup. I also have been doing some checking and it looks like the boats solar controller is on the fritz because it refuses to even try and charge the bank of batteries. The boat has a nice solar setup too so basically its tons of power just going to waste. The AIR-X Marine wind generator was cranking out high speeds the other day so I decided to check it with my multimeter. 5VDC?!?!?! It should be around 20vdc+!!! I isolated the circuit right at the generator and same thing, 5.6Vdc. I have to get her hooked up straight to the batteries because it has an internal regulator so that might have something to do with it but I highly doubt it. Right now I have it shorted and is self braking to prevent wear.

Ill try and get back on this thing because I know I haven’t been writing much lately and I can tell. I need to get these fingers moving again!!!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

In Florida, working on a boat!

I have been here in Florida now for a week. I am working on a Wharram Pahi 42, a traditional type catamaran sailboat to get her ready for a long voyage to Colombia. Our tentative departure date is somewhere around mid March due to weather and other constraints.

I have been working hard on the first thing on my list which is to get the hatches on the boat sealed up. They are leaking water when it rains which means they will be leaking out on the ocean as well and no one likes a wet boat. It doesn’t seem like a big deal at first but when you are on a passage or even living on a boat in such a confined area, the smallest things can bring major discomfort and anger. I have been pulling the hatches completely from the deck and sanding down the deck areas. Next when the weather and temperature permits, I will begin reglassing the hatch frames to help seal and protect the wood below. Then I will reseal the hatches to the wood frames with 3M 5200 Marine Sealant. That stuff can glue/seal anything when it comes to boats. The next step will be replacing the hatch gaskets that we ordered from Bomar and then finally I will be resealing the plexiglass seams in the hatch lids. It’s a lot of work but its worth it to make a dry boat be possible.

Anyways, Im going to have dinner and a few beers and catch this Auburn vs. Oregon game everyone is going crazy about. I have a lot more to write about concerning the boat but that will have to wait for tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011


I wrote this when I was bored one night during a storm on the boat.

The rain patters down on the portlights and wood that makes up her hull. A slow drip from the hatch makes evident a leak in her defenses against the weather and the dark of the night. The storm heightens in strength and the wind howls through the rigging as the docklines stretch. She labors to protect me from the storm and the cold, biting wind.

Pitter patter goes the rain above my head.

Drip drop go the leaks from the hatches.

The dark night presses on as the creaks and groans grow louder with the wind. I lay snugly in my berth, listening to the torrent outside. Visions of wild storms at sea race through my mind, reminding me constantly of where I am and just how small and insignificant I am against the elements of wind and sea.

Ohh how dark it is!

Confined to my small space while this old boat labors on fighting the storm, I lay listening and watching the lightning. The winds howls again and the creaking grows louder. I pray the docklines hold for if not I will be surely blown off the docks and into shallow waters.
The night grows darker yet, thus casting a looming shadow upon my spirit. I pray for her strength and for my own. I pray she keep out the cold and protect me from the endless driving wind and soaking rain. The wind howls on as the hours pass.

The hulls grown with undue stress.

Drip drop go the leaks from the hatches.

Pitter patter goes the rain above my head.