Thursday, April 30, 2009

Brakes? What brakes?

Maneuvering Eolian at speed while under way in the open is easy and intuitive, even for the novice, recently come up from an O'Day 25.

Maneuvering in close quarters at low speed is another kettle of fish entirely. A review of our early log entries shows that this was an issue which received a lot of attention. And rightfully so.

First, with any vessel (unless equipped with a bow thruster), the helmsman has control only over the stern. The thrust is applied at the stern, and the rudder is at the stern, or nearly so. This is very different than an automobile, where the driver controls the front of the vehicle, and it takes a lot of getting used to. For example, if you find that you are too far out as you approach the dock, applying rudder will force the stern further out, in order to get it behind the bow to push it more towards the dock.

Eolian, like all vessels of her size, is an inboard - all of our previous boats were outboard equipped. Making the switch from outboard (or I/O) to inboard is a very significant conceptual leap. With an outboard, you steer via directed thrust, that is, the thrust produced by the motor can be directed to port or starboard by turning the motor (or outdrive). But with an inboard, the thrust line is fixed, dead astern. However, the rudder is positioned so that it is in the middle of the river of water being moved astern by the prop. Therefore, side thrust can be developed by turning the rudder. Tho this works, it is not nearly as effective as directing the stream of water itself. And it is completely ineffective when moving astern... the boat is not moving at enough speed so that the rudder movement thru the water has any significant effect, and the prop slipstream is blowing forward, where there is no rudder. (The flow of water coming into the prop is diffuse and provides no effective steerage.)

Then, there is the issue of prop walk. When the engine is engaged astern, the boat will move significantly sideways, as well as astern. There are a lot of explanations for this phenomenon - the way I visualize it is this: The prop is not operating in free water, where everything is the same everywhere. Instead, the top of the prop is close to the hull, while the bottom is in free water. This means that the sideways motion of water thrown from the prop tips is different at the top, where it is restricted by the hull, than the bottom where it is not. Therefore, the prop acts sort of like a wheel mounted sideways at the stern with very poor traction. If the wheel is turning clockwise (as viewed from astern), then there will be a tendency for the stern of the boat to walk to starboard (right). Whether or not this is an accurate rendition of the physics involved, it certainly helps me to understand how Eolian will react. The same phenomenon occurs when the engine is engaged forward, however it is largely masked because the prop wash over the rudder gives a much more authoritative response to the wheel. Eolian's propeller turns clockwise when engaged forward, and counterclockwise when in reverse. This means that Eolian's stern moves to port (left) when she is reversed.

Finally, there is momentum. Figuring Eolian at 50,000 lb would be about right. Nothing happens fast, and you live with the results of previous control actions far longer than you might think. And the consequences of a collision at even low speed are significant, because of the magnitude of the forces involved.

So, docking. The objective is to arrive near enough to the dock for Jane to step off with a line and tie off to a cleat. You should arrive at the dock with zero velocity, so that there is no damage, and so that there is no bounce. And although you are in control of a vehicle longer, wider, and heavier than a city bus, you have no brakes. If you use reverse to bleed off forward momentum, the stern shifts to port. If there is wind, it blows against the bow, which then tries to act as a flag and stream downwind. It isn't easy, therefore you do what you can to remove difficulties.

Because Eolian walks to port when reversed, we elect to have a slip with a port tie. This means that when I reverse to bleed off forward momentum, the stern walks toward the dock. One issue neutralized.

Because of the configuration of the breakwater at Shilshole, there is a significant current flowing towards shore, out at the end of G dock, whenever the tide is running. So we elect to arrive at the dock at or near slack water whenever the tidal change is large. Another issue neutralized.

We have chosen a slip which faces north, because the prevailing winds are out of the north in the summer, when we do the majority of our docking. Approaching the dock with the bow firmly on one side of the wind means that it will not suddenly fall off as we slow. Another issue minimized.

Nevertheless, when docking we always have all of our fenders out, and never, never, NEVER take anything for granted.

And finally, when the lines are tied up and the engine is shut down, we breathe a sigh of relief, and celebrate with a beer (even if it is 09:00). And we almost always do a post-mortem, trying to see if there was a way we might have done things better. Usually there is.

I almost left this part out because this didn't start out as a "dock life" posting, but it really needs to be. Almost always when you approach the dock, there will be folks there waiting on the finger pier to catch your lines. This is important because by tossing a line to someone on the dock, you can get a line on a cleat, handled by skilled folks, even if you are too far from the dock. And we all do this for each other. On a Sunday afternoon, when lots of boats are coming back in, we are all alert to the sight of a familiar mast moving by outside the breakwater, or of someone turning into the waterway, and hustle down to their slip to catch lines and help them tie up. And of course this provides the perfect opportunity to find out where they went, and how the trip worked out.

And then there is one more person to help catch the next set of lines.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Favorite Anchorage

What makes a favorite anchorage?
  • Does it need to be exotic?
  • Does it need to be distant?
  • Does it need to have breathtaking scenery?
No. Although some of these could certainly turn an ordinary anchorage into a spectacular one, these are not required conditions.

I submit that your favorite anchorage is the one you visit perhaps most weekends all summer long. It is as comfortable as an old shoe. You know it well enough to pick your way into it in the dark or in thick fog. You have a favorite place to drop the hook, and are unsettled if someone has had the effrontery to take your spot, forcing you to fall back to one of your alternates.

It is probably a short journey from your home moorage, but perhaps it is long enough to let you feel that you have traveled to get there.

You know every inch of the shoreline, and you comment when someone repaints their house, or has a home improvement project going.

Whatever its shortcomings (and there may be many), you overlook them, because it is... home. You know you are home when the anchor hooks and you kill the engine. It is a palpable feeling.

And you sleep more soundly there than you do in your home slip.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Weekend Report 4/23: Bowsprit Renewal

Another weekend, another coat of paint (and the last one). Not much to talk about here. It still is shiny white.

But I started refurbishing the anchor windlass this weekend. Since this mounts on top of the bowsprit and had to be removed to remove the bowsprit, it counts as part of the bowsprit project.

First, there has been considerable corrosion on the bottom flange, where the cast aluminum windlass body sat on the stainless steel mounting plate. I cut an isolating gasket/pad out of spare plastic sheeting I had used to line the refrigerator with when I rebuilt it (that will have to be the subject of another posting, I guess). The material is 1/8 fiber-reinforced ABS, so it is perfect for the service. This will go under the windlass when it is bolted down, to provide a bottom seal which is electrically isolated from the stainless.

Next, I painted the groady looking interior with some Interlux polyurethane. I used grey, because I had some left over.

Finally, I have applied one coat of white Interlux polyurethane to the exterior. It will take another to get a good finish.

I plan to redo the Previous Owner's wire entry plan: He just goobered up the entrance with a lot of silicone rubber, It looked like crap, and didn't seal well. You can see the two holes in the last picture, above, just to the right of the rope drum. I will bore the holes out to 3/4" and tap them with threads suitable for waterproof wire glands... next weekend.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Oysters in Desolation Sound

It was a collision between opportunity and tradition.

In the summer of 2004 we took Eolian on a 515-mile, 4 week long trip to Desolation Sound. I will not attempt to detail that trip here - that would take much, much too long. There were some stories out of that trip, however, that beg to be told. This is one...

We had just anchored in a rocky pool behind Jean Island, just outside of Grace Harbor. The anchorage was tight - just large enough for one boat. Following our normal anchor drill, to be certain that the anchor was securely hooked we watched as Eolian swung on the anchor, and discussed our position. Unfortunately, it became clear that when the tide changed and we swung from the anchor in the opposite direction, we would likely not fit in the pool.

As I have mentioned before, on Eolian we focus entirely on getting securely anchored before we allow our attention to go elsewhere. In this case, that meant putting the dinghy down, carefully lowering the stern anchor into it, and offloading enough rode to cover the distance to... well, somewhere where I could hook the anchor securely. There was a small rocky islet about the right distance away - it seemed perfect. So I rowed the dinghy over there, paying out rode as I went. I tied off to a lump of rock and proceeded to hook the anchor manually in the rocks in a way that it wouldn't come loose (but ensuring another dinghy trip, at low tide, when we wanted to leave).

And then I looked down and really saw what I was looking at. I was standing on oysters! By this I do not mean that there was one under my foot, I mean that the little islet was completely blanketed in oysters! Opportunity! I bent over and picked them up, stuffing my pockets, and then finally I made a basket out of the front of my tee shirt and filled that too. I suppose I picked up 12-18 of the delightful lumps.

Back onboard Eolian, I could see Jane, waiting, *NOT* patiently. She was the perfect picture of impatience, standing with crossed arms and tapping foot. She was convinced that I had become side-tracked, thoughtlessly picking up rocks, and was unnecessarily delaying. Delaying what? Well it is a tradition on Eolian that after the boat is made secure, we open the liquor locker and prepare ourselves an adult beverage. As this had been an especially long, hard day, the sundowner was especially anticipated. Frivolous delay was just unacceptable!

But when I shoveled the oysters onto the deck after tying up the dinghy to Eolian, the scowl turned to laughter, and all was well. The sundowners were especially delightful when enjoyed with grilled fresh oysters!

Grilled Oysters
  1. Heat up the grill
  2. Open the oysters, retaining the meat and liquids in the deepest shell half
  3. Place the half-shells on the hot grill
  4. Add a little pat of butter and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese
  5. Remove when the meat is just firm and the cheese has started to melt.
  6. Some folks like to add a splash of Tabasco


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Like a giant flag

The wind came up pretty suddenly this evening, rising from just a few knots to a steady 25 with gusts ranging to nearly 30 kts. It is dark now, but some poor soul with a 35 foot (? it is dark) sailboat and a spinnaker flying loose from the mast head like a giant flag managed to get his boat tied up to the pump-out dock. That had to be a real test of his abilities, with that big flag yanking the boat around. The center of the spinnaker is blown out, and there are no sheets on it. I don't see how he will recover it until the wind dies enough for it to sag down to deck level. It has to be wrapped around the mast at least once.

What a mess. But what a capable captain.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dread: First really warm day

Yesterday it reached 70 degrees in Seattle, and I was filled with dread for what that meant. Today, the first nice day of the year, would be the day that I would have to change the sacrificial zinc attached to the big nut that holds the prop on the boat. Of course, that zinc is about 4 feet under water. Under 43 degree water, that is.

So you put on a wet suit. I think the ladies can imagine this best: it is like a slightly stretchy pair of very thick panty hose that cover you from ankle to neck. I also have a hood and gloves, making the only part of my body really exposed to the freezing water my ankles (my feet are encased in my swim fins).

With your loins properly girded (whatever that means), you jump in the water... and the suit begins to fill with ice water (it is a wet suit)... from the ankles up, and more importantly, there is a trickle of ice water running down your back.

Your. Heart. Stops.

Finally, the water in the suit gets heated up by your cooling body, and a kind of equilibrium is reached. Your heart restarts (at least so far it has every time), and you breathe like a hard-ridden race horse.

Then you go to work - take the allen key down and fit it into the screw holding the spent zinc (DO NOT DROP the key). Break it loose, and turn it out. By now, you have made perhaps 4 trips down, resurfacing to get more air in between. Finally, the screw and the zinc are in your hand. Place them on the dock, and take the new zinc with the new screw pretreated with Locktite (thank you, Jane!). Breathe deeply and submerge again, attempting to start the screw good enough to leave it while you surface again for air. Maybe you get it, maybe you don't. But you cannot make a mistake - the water is 25 feet deep here - out of reach for me - do not drop anything your are holding in those thick stiff rubber gloves. Another few trips and the screw is tight, and you are done. Yes, you have indeed earned that beer, after you strip off the wet suit in the shower and warm up.

And because it was the first really nice evening of the year, a dock party formed, so the evening had a perfect ending, sharing food, and drinking beer with friends as the sun went down.

Here's the zinc I removed, compared with a new one. It was definitely time for it to go. And now I can look forward to warm weather, dread-free.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Weekend Report 4/19: Heat Pump

The heat pump which has been keeping us warm all winter was not really installed. Last fall when I got it, I kind of jury-rigged the install in order to get it up and running. Today I tackled one part of that jury-rigging: I positioned the heat pump in its final location and bolted it down - a prerequisite for us to be able to go sailing (wouldn't do to have it flopping around down there).

In order to do this, it was necessary to make a giant mess of the cabin, of course. I uninstalled the ductwork, the water plumbing, and removed all the other non-heat pump stuff in the compartment.

Last week, Jane picked up the collection of stainless nuts, bolts and washers that I figured would cover any installation eventuality, so I was prepared to do the bolt down. I drilled the holes and test-fitted the bolts. They didn't work - the threaded length was not sufficient. So, since I needed more water hose anyway, we left the mess and made a trip to West Marine. With the proper bolts and 14' of hose, I once again wedged my tender body into the small space under the dinette seating. The first two bolts went in without a hitch, and required maybe 10 minutes to make up. The last bolt, however, had bad threads part way down its length. After I essentially welded the nut on (stainless galls up easily) by trying to turn it past the bad place, I gave up and hacksawed it off. I invested a good hour in this last bolt. Jane made a quick trip back to West Marine to exchange the defective bolt, while I caught my breath. The replacement bolt went in easily, and all I had left to do was to cut off the excess ductwork (left long in the initial "install" on purpose), and hook up the new hose.

Done. Remaining: permanently mount the water circulating pump, and provide permanent 110V wiring.

I also completed the fabrication of a new teak door and frame for what is now the heat pump compartment. This door incorporates a return air vent, needed because the heat pump has to get the air it blows throughout the boat from somewhere. The new door and frame is larger than the previous one (to get adequate return air), and so the opening will have to be enlarged. I think it is going to look OK once it is mounted and varnished. Don't you?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Weekend Report 4/18: Bowsprit Renewal

Not too much to talk about. Scuff-sanded the first coat of paint to remove dust nits and to provide traction for the second coat to bond, and then put on a second coat. The most interesting thing was that a small pore in the surface blew a bubble - it is about the size of a large blueberry, and still exists, looking exactly the same, even tho the paint is completely dry!

Friday, April 17, 2009

s/v Designation

For those who may not be familiar with the "s/v" designation (eg. s/v Eolian) - it means "sailing vessel". Other similar designations are f/v for "fishing vessel", m/v for "motor vessel", and r/v for "research vessel".

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Did you ever wonder?

Earthquake, on a boat... did you ever think about it? I know it was something I wondered about, tho in an entirely theoretical way, even before we moved aboard.

During the February 28, 2001 Nisqually earthquake here in Seattle, I was home sick with the flu. It was a quiet day - no wind, and no activity on the water. And I was laying on the settee in the saloon, kind of dozing, half awake.

Then the boat began to bump up and down sharply. Not really like a wake had passed under us. This was a much sharper movement. Eolian is heavy. It takes a lot to move her quickly.

I jumped up and looked out the window to see what the heck was happening. In the back of my head I was already thinking, "This is unusual... this... is an earthquake?"

The pilings at the ends of the finger piers were all waving around in circles, making circular wave patterns. Masts were all waving in random patterns, as they all have different natural frequencies. And strange waves, maybe 6" high were moving around everywhere. And Eolian was going bump, bump, bump.

And then it was over. It lasted maybe 10 seconds at the outside. On shore, the reported length ranged from 45 to 60 seconds. Why the discrepancy? Well, although water carries compression waves just fine, transverse waves just can't be coupled to it. Imagine the seabed moving back and forth, but not up and down. It would just move beneath the water, hardly affecting it except at the edges. My theory is that most of the motion felt on land was the result of transverse waves, which must have lasted a lot longer.

Or maybe it was the Nyquil.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Destination: Poulsbo

If you arrived here by searching for a chart, please see this page.
After entering the intimate waterways behind Bainbridge Island thru Agate Pass, you have many choices for a final destination. One of our favorites is Poulsbo, on Liberty Bay.

When moving South after exiting Agate Pass, there will be a temptation to go down the "visual middle" of the waterway. Don't give in to the temptation - the shoal extending East from just North of Bolin Point reaches nearly to the middle of the channel. It is marked with a buoy, which all sailboats should stay east of. You don't want to crowd Bolin Point too much either.

Turning North again, you make your way up the narrowing channel to Keyport and past the Navy Research Center. The first time you do this you will be wondering whether you might have made a mistake, because the entrance to Liberty Bay is not really visible until you make the final turn to port. But it is there, right under the two power line towers (which you can see from quite a ways out).

Once thru the narow opening, Liberty Bay opens before you, looking every bit like a big lake. There are three major marinas on the East side of the bay - the Southern two are private and the Northern-most is the Port of Poulsbo. There are no depth surprises - the depth changes gradually from 35-40 feet down to 8 feet off of the Port of Poulsbo marina. We usually anchor just outside the marina breakwater, right where the numeral 8 on the chart segment indicates 8 feet of water, a short dinghy ride to shore.

Poulsbo wears its Scandinavian heritage like a badge. And it LOOKS Scandinavian - from the white spire of the Lutheran Church on the hill above the town, the brightly painted houses marching up the hill in a jumble, to the winding narrow streets in downtown, it could actually be Fauske, Norway, where I spent most of a summer (for my job) in 1976.

In the city park at the shoreline there is a huge rock that the retreating glacier which carved Puget Sound dropped like a forgotten gum wrapper. Little kids have been scaling this rock for, I suspect, thousands of years. The park is delightful.

We make a tradition of visiting Sheila's Bayside Cafe to fortify ourselves with a hearty (they don't serve any other kind) breakfast before we hit the shops. There are dozens of them: little shops and galleries and antique stores, all tastefully drawing you in to feast your eyes (or yourself... at the bakery, or the little shop on the Southern end of Main Street that stocks about a hundred different kinds of licorice - if it isn't too soon after Sheila's). We especially enjoy the used book store, are rarely escape there without at least a couple of books.

Fuel at the Port marina is a bargain, but you need to practice your "Captain Ron" docking maneuver to tie up to the fuel dock.

Despite the huge size of Liberty Bay, it is very crowded on July 3rd every year, when Poulsbo holds its July 4th celebration. No, that is not a typo - they do it a day early so you can enjoy both this one and one of the Seattle fireworks displays the next night too. Good community planning, I think.

When we go to bed at anchor, the chimes in the church tower drifting over the water lull us to sleep.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Weekend Report 4/11: Bowsprit Renewal

Jane and I hauled the bowsprit outside where I could generate dust with impunity. I sanded the third and last coat of primer, again removing much of it and generating prodigious quantities of dust. This time I did not use a power sander - I did it by hand with a sanding block and 150 grit sandpaper - no swirls.

Aside: Why does the dust, even from week-old completely dried paint, clump up on the sandpaper? And why do the clumps keep reforming in exactly the same places, after you flick them off?

After sanding, I wiped it down with rags and paint thinner to get the dust off, and we brought it back inside after the thinner evaporated.

Finally, finally, I applied the first coat of Interlux single-part urethane enamel, using the roll and tip method to the first horizontal surface. I can't say enough how much I like this paint - it goes on like cream, and levels itself to a mirror-like finish. The aggressive self-leveling kept me from rolling the bowsprit over to get the next side. When I tried rolling it over too soon, it began to sag. Roll it back! Roll it back!

It looks like I will be able to get three sides coated in a day, but I will have to do them one at a time. Yesterday, I only got two, but I spent a heavy morning sanding before I started. Today, I got the other two. Next weekend, I should be able to do as many as three sides in a day, tho now that I have a coat on all four sides, the system is thrown off.

I won't be able to avoid inter-coat sanding - it'll be necessary to remove dust nits, etc. But this should be just a light scuffing with 150 (the paint fills 150 grit scratches completely).

Did I say I love this paint? The bowsprit looks and feels like it is coated in plastic.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Breathe In, Breathe Out

The tide is a daily fact of life when you live on a boat, at least here in the Pacific Northwest, where the difference between high tide and low tide can be as much as 16 feet. It staggers me when I think of the amount of water that has to flow into and out of Puget Sound, twice a day, to make that kind of tidal range. In my imagination, I see the Sound as breathing, in and out.

Because of the magnitude of the tidal swings, fixed docks are not practical here. Virtually all the docks are floating, which means that out here on the end of G dock, 750 feet from shore, the tidal state is not so obvious, since everything rides up and down with the water. However when you get to the shore end of the dock, it is very obvious. There is a ramp that goes from the dock to a fixed point on shore - at high tide is is nearly level... but at low tide it is a steep climb.

Eventually, the tidal cycles sort of get ingrained into your soul. They are not fixed in time. Because the tides are (mostly) the result of the pull of the Moon, and because the Moon moves ahead a little less than 1 hour/day (it takes 28 days to make the whole circle around the Earth), the tides advance about 1 hour per day, on average, more or less. After a while, you don't think about it, but you just sort of know if you are in for a herculean effort to get the cart full of groceries down the ramp, even before you get out of the car in the parking lot.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Destination: Colvos Passage

If you arrived here by searching for a chart, please see this page.
Colvos Passage is very strange. Here in our part of the world, we are used to large tidal swings, large tidal currents. And we expect to see those currents reverse twice a day, as the tide goes out, comes in, goes out, etc.

In Colvos Passage, the current always flows North.

How can this be? Even when there is a prodigious amount of water pouring South thru the Narrows, there will be a weak flow North in Colvos. I don't know - perhaps Vashon and Maury Islands sit in the middle of a permanent, clockwise-rotating gyre.

(Please recall that all these pictures are larger than the thumbnails shown on this web page. To see the full-sized version, click on the picture.)

When heading South to the Tacoma Narrows (what looks like a river entering the lower left corner of this segment of chart I captured) and the South Sound, you have to decide if you will go East around Vashon and Maury Islands (by far the longer route, because of the shape of the islands), or take the direct route down the West side of Vashon Island, thru Colvos Passage.

For the Southbound sailor, this is a real dilemma. If there is a good North wind, you will take your lumps against the current in Colvos.

Ah, but if the wind is strongly out of the South, you would be tempted to take East Passage where you will have room to tack, but have to travel nearly twice as far, even before accounting for the distance lost tacking. And you will need to dodge commercial shipping.

If the wind is light, you will need to fire up the engine, and then you will again take your lumps against the current in Colvos.

The current is not constant. As you would expect, it is far stronger during an ebb tide. The Southbound sailor will time his passage thru Colvos to correspond with maximum flood tide, when the Northbound current is at its weakest. He will also take advantage of eddies which form behind points along the shorelines on either side, riding the counter currents closer to shore.

Other than reaching water that is finally moving in your direction, the prize for clearing the Southern end of Vashon Island is when you look to port and Mount Rainier, rising from sea level to more than 14,000 feet smacks you between the eyes.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Remote mind control

The trip to the Portland swap meet was unsuccessful as far as buying a car goes (but it was a roaring success in terms of a good time). So as a consolation prize to myself, I bought a hat (yeah, I know that's not completely logical).

This is it - it has built-in hair, something that the area it covers is in some need of, or at least so they tell me. But it seems to match the salt/pepper look pretty well.

So well in fact that...

We were in the Deschutes Brew Pub (it is kind of dark in there), and the cute, 20-something waitress comes up and says, "Hey, I like your hair! How did you do that?" and reaches up to touch it. Then I lifted the hat and the hair came with it... A shriek, and then a good laugh went all around the table.

Then she went back to the bar to tell her buddies, and a member of our group rejoined the table. As we rehashed what had just happened for him, she was doing the same with her buddies. At the right place in my story, I lifted the hat again... and it turned out to be just the right place in her story too, kind of like remote mind control for her.

It was fun evening, ending at the Tugboat pub - an obscure but delightful place, and the perfect end to a great day.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Project from 2007: Repaint the deck nonskid

The non-skid areas on the deck were created in 1978 at the factory by putting down a layer of urethane enamel, and then covering it evenly with 80 grit white sand while the paint was still wet. I can't tell if the original coating was then overcoated. This is the common procedure today, and inspection with a powerful magnifying lens does seem to show it, but the sand is exposed everywhere. Over the last 29 years, the paint has oxidized and chalked away, leaving a very rough surface, and one that is extremely porous. Stains have been accumulating because they have soaked into the porous surface, and un-removable mildew has set up housekeeping. Even straight bleach is now ineffective in getting rid of it. The cockpit was the worst for stains.

Before this process could get started, I had to deal with some gelcoat bubbles on the aft deck. These are places where there was a small void between the gelcoat and the first layer of glass - sloppy wetting out of the first layer during construction. Over the years, these bubbles have been cracked open, and allowed water intrusion. Then, during the winter months, the freeze/thaw cycle has opened the bubbles up bigger.

After chipping back to sound gelcoat (creating, in one case, a 6" diameter crater 1/4" deep), I made up some straight epoxy and poured it into each of the exposed voids. Because of the tilt of the deck areas, it was not possible to completely fill the voids with runny epoxy, but I wanted it runny so that it would penetrate. Next I made up a batch of epoxy which was filled with an easy-sanding additive and topped off the voids. After sanding, it looks bad, but is pretty smooth. Unfortunately, I failed to take any pictures at this stage.

Next, I applied a coat of EasyPoxy and sprinkled white 80 grit sand (thanks to Jane and JoAnn Fabric!) over it while wet. The sprinkling was made more even by pouring the sand thru a screen pasta strainer (another thanks, Jane!), which spread out the stream and slowed it down. When the paint had cured, I vacuumed off the sand which had not been incorporated, and then finally applied an overcoat of slightly thinned Easypoxy, with enough flatting agent added to kill the gloss.

Well, after looking at the finished product, the repairs were completely invisible, but the color was not right. Although it matched the original pretty well, it was too light, and too pink. And the original color had been too pink to go well with the light grey deck/hull, teak and the green trim anyway. So an excursion into paint colors began. I tried Interlux Dusk Gray and compared it to the EasyPoxy Sandtone by painting over the badly stained cockpit seating, one color to each side. Nope. Neither color was right, but the cockpit seats, which were badly stained by all manner of foreign substances, sure looked better! Finally, I tried Interlux Grand Banks Beige. Perfect!

And by the way, having had cans of both paint brands open one right after the other, I can say that the Interlux is significantly the superior paint. The pigment stays mixed (is it ground finer?), and it goes on smoother. And in the configuration used, with a flatting agent, it is actually cheaper ($30/qt vs $41/qt). Here's a picture of the quarter deck showing some of the old color and some new sections completed: The two sections on either side of the hatch with the green weather cover are the ones that had the gelcoat bubble repair work done.

Now, it was just a case of masking sections and painting them. There was a lot of tricky masking, but painting cars has given me lots of practice with this.

It is done. Not only does it look sharp and clean, but the new overcoat of paint should stop the sand loss, and should stop the chalk deposition on the big side windows when it rains.


Weekend Report 4/5: Bowsprit Renewal

Nothing happened this weekend. We took the weekend off and went down to Portland OR for the big auto swamp meet.

So once again, a bonus project follows.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The wine cruise

The wine cruise at anchor is a tradition Jane and I started only two years ago. In some ways, it is similar to lazing around in the dinghy in the waterways of the marina, but the ambiance is much improved.

In this tradition (which occurs only at anchor in a small cove somewhere), I put the dinghy down from the davits, and Jane procures a bottle of wine from the liquor locker and two wine glasses.

Time out.

We gave up drinking wine from glasses made of ... um, glass, some time ago. Glass just doesn't work out too well on a boat, and you tend to find some of the pieces weeks after one jumps out of the wine glass rack over the sink while in a seaway. Hopefully not with a bare foot. So, now we use glasses made out of plastic. Not those light weight ones that come in two pieces - they are not stable enough. We have a set of heavy ones that look sort of like glass. So the question here is: should they be called "wine plastics?" I hope not, because that is so ugly sounding.

So, Jane brings the opened wine and the wine "glasses" down to the dinghy and we cast off. There is a 2 hp outboard on the dinghy, but for the wine cruises it is verbotten - the noise wrecks the atmosphere. Instead, we row slowly around the cove or harbor, commenting on the houses on shore, other boats at anchor, sea birds and eagles, etc. until the wine is nearly gone, or the light is nearly gone, or both.

Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of a wine cruise in progress. You will have to use your imagination, seeing us, in the dinghy, say in Port Madison - our favorite anchorage.

And should you actually see us cruising around in the dinghy, be sure to hail us - we'd love to share the wine!
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