Pinned Down

Sunday March 25, 2012

I was not looking forward to going to the boat today since I was already slightly defeated from the small amount of work I had completed last week.  At least I knew I’d be able to angle the sander all day today which meant I should get more accomplished and that made me feel a little better.  Winds were whipping around in the 10-15 mph range and even after having Matt help me with the tarps I was still having issues.  It would blow into the areas where the tarp was overlapping,  catch it like a sail filling with wind and eventually start to pull the tape from the hull.  Not wanting to give up a full day of work I needed to find a way to get the tarp completely closed.  I had tried taping small sections together but it wasn’t doing much good and would just make it harder to take apart and put back together.  Knowing there wouldn’t be anything laying around the boat to do the job and not even wanting to make an attempt at a search to see if there was I stole the car keys from Matt to drive to the local dollar store.  Passing through the aisles of random things looking for laundry supplies (hardcover books for $1, what?!) I finally found the clothespins which I assumed would do the job and picked up a few boxes of 50 knowing they probably wouldn’t be the best of quality and I’d need to stock up.  Getting back to the boat I ripped opened a packed and started pinning all the openings shut.

When I was able to get inside and start on the actual work the area I had been sanding last week was now blocked by the wind and I’d be eating tarp if I wanted to work there.  Moving on to the Port side, since I had the whole thing to do anyway, I started in the same stern area.  The little bit of exercise my muscles and steroids last week must have been enough to strengthen a little bit because my arms were not as sore as the first time around.  I could usually go three minutes before breaking and even then it would only be about thirty seconds before I got back to work.  I worked hard and I worked all day.  In the end it still feels like I didn’t get anything done.  I’m going to have to bring out some big guns next time.

La Femme Makita

Sunday March 18, 2012

St. Patrick’s Day happened to fall on a Saturday this year.  If you coupled that with what we were expecting our night to be after last year (first time hanging out with Jeff and Jared at the bars for an awesome time!) and the fact that we should have been going balls out since this was our last St. Paddy’s Day with friends, you would expect that we wouldn’t be able to drag ourselves out of bed at all, let alone work on the boat.  But after being mobbed in our car on the way downtown from thousands of drunks taking advantage of the 80 degree weather, we ended up at TGI Fridays where I had one green beer and what I expect were watered down margaritas.  When we woke up the next morning it was as if we had stayed home all night.  Not to mention the sun was shining and it was 25 degrees warmer  outside than it should be right now, the kind of day that makes you want to rush outside, even if it is to do manual labor.

Wanting to wear shorts and a t-shirt in the heat I was still banished to wearing jeans and a long sleeve shirt because of all the dust particles I was about to encounter.  Winds were predicted to be under 10 knots all day which meant I should not have any issues getting the tarps to stay up.  When we got out of the car there was just a slight breeze on my face, but there must be something about where our boat sits because as soon as we started walking down the row where Serendip stood there was a strong wind whipping right through.  Again, starting to tape on the side the wind was blowing I didn’t have much difficulty getting it to stay.  Once I got to the other side however, the wind kept trying to rip the tarp  out of my hands and rip the tape off the boat.  I knew I could get the tarp to stay in place if it were weighted at the bottom but there was nothing around me.  Abandoning the remaining tarp that was flapping in the wind I climbed into the boat to try and find any heavy objects I’d be able to anchor down the bottom of the tarp with and hopefully keep the top part from detaching from the boat.  In the mess of everything in the cockpit and cabin I thought I’d be able to find some kind of cart or container to do the job, but anything we had would have been much to big of a hassle to even try and get down the ladder.  Matt being ever so clever went up on deck to release the anchor chain and we could use the length and weight to hold down the bottom of the tarp and keep it in place.  He wound it around the boat while I was able to finally successfully keep it taped to the boat up top.

With Matt’s help I was able to get everything set up within a matter of minutes at this point.  I pulled the  little Makita palm sander we borrowed from Jack out of it’s box and went to work where Matt had left off last fall.  It was the aft area of the boat and I was hoping to be able to finish u the rest of that side that afternoon.  I had very specific instructions that the sander had to be held flat against the hull of the boat and couldn’t use it at any angles for fear of digging in.  I switched the on button and held the sander on a spot in front of my face.  It spun to life and as I held it in a spot the now gray color of the hull would give way to the burnt orange underneath and finally the white/gray of the hull.  I was able to work for about 90 seconds and then my arms would become sore and I’d have to break for 60 seconds and then go back to work.  Every 3-4 rounds of this I’d have to take a longer 2-3 minute break.  I knew I wouldn’t be great at this project but was pleased with myself for making any kind of advancement.  It was obvious right away though that my progress was not as quick as I’d originally hoped it would be with the sander and it would be very unlikely to finish that side that day.  I was hoping it would not be my job to sand the entire hull (the port side had not even been touched yet) because working once a week at the pace I was would have me finishing sometime in September.  At this point I assumed I was probably just ‘extra help’ to take a few hours of work away from Matt when he went back to finish the project himself.  I kept dutifully working for 90 seconds at a time making sure I could help out as much as possible and leave him with only one full day of sanding.

You can see the line to the right where I started

As the day dragged on my arms were feeling weaker and weaker and the work time would change t0 60 seconds with 90 second breaks.  The ‘long’ breaks also became longer lasting for about five minutes where I’d lay on the ground and try to get rid of the awful pain in my back.  When Matt came down to check on me one hour before quitting time he took at my work and turned to me and said, ‘So think you’ll be able to finish this side before we go home tonight?’.  I laughed as I knew by now there was no way it could be done.  When he realized I was serious he went into time-panick mode.  ‘I thought you’d be able to do this today.  We don’t have a lot of time, you still have to do the whole other side.’  (Me) ‘You know I don’t have the strength to work as quickly as you, I thought I was just helping out so that when you went back to do it there wouldn’t be as much work.’  Neither of us were mad or yelling at each other, but there was a conversation going back and forth of how I didn’t have the strength for a project like this and he didn’t have time with all the other million things that have to be done to take time out and work on this too.

He took the sander from my hands and try it himself to make sure it was not an issue with the sander itself that was slowing down my work compared to when he was doing it.  As I watched him work the sander (which was perfectly fine) I was that he’d angle it in certain spots to get down to bare hull.  I ask why he was allowed to angle it but I had to keep it completely flat.  He replied again it was so I didn’t accidentally dig into the hull.  Exasperated I came back that if he could do it without digging into the hull that I’m sure my light touch could do it too.  I also replied that part of the reason my arms were so tired was using all of my energy to keep the sander flat while still giving it enough force to do anything.  I told him that if I were allowed to angle it I’d be able to get much more work done.  He handed the sander back to me and told me to be careful not to do any damage.  As he went back up the ladder to work in the cabin I went back to work sanding with much more ease.  I was able to get twice as much area sanded in almost half the time.  In the next 45 minutes I worked there was dust flying everywhere as bottom became more and more bare.  I still wasn’t able to finish that side but by the time I started clean up I was much further along than I would have been flat sanding.

I was still ready to pack up and go home around 6:30, vacuuming the dust particles that had fallen on the tarp below me and the cradle of the boat.  I un-taped the tarp and Matt brought the anchor chain back up in the locker.  We had everything cleaned up and I was happy not to have to raise my arms again.  I did however snatch my camera out of my purse and snap a few photos of the docks near us and the first boat of the year to make it in the water.

Spring Fever

Sunday March 11, 2012

There’s been some kind of weird phenomenon going on in Michigan this winter as in we’re barely having one.  There’s never been snow on the ground for more than five consecutive days and temperatures have been way above normal.  I could count on both hands the number of days the daily high was under 30 degrees.  Back in November we made plans with Ken and Mindy to go snowmobiling sometime before spring but were never able to because we never had a weekend with enough snow on the ground.  This trend followed into what’s becoming  Spring, and on this bright sunny Sunday Matt decided my home vacation time on weekends was now over.  It was going to be clear, 62, and there was a bottom that needed paint sanded.  I warned him that forecasts were showing winds to be near 20 mph that day and asked if he’d rather have me stay home and finish work on the dodger since we had just gotten in all the trim and zippers I needed to finish it.  ‘Oh no, when I checked again winds looked like they’re slowing down, we should be fine’.  I was slightly disappointed to be taken away from staying in my comfy bed all day (where I do my work on the dodger) but also a little excited to get outside on such a nice day.

Making sure to still put on a few layers of warm clothes because Muskegon was showing about 8 degrees cooler than GR I was able to get out the door on this day without any hassle of ‘Are you ready yet?  Are you ready?  Why are you taking so long?  We’re just going to the boat’.  Yes, I am one of those girls who will always put on make-up even for a day of hard labor where I don’t plan on running into  soul.  Not bothering to try and pack any kind of lunch since we’d just grab something on the way, we still made it out the door in pretty good time.  Pulling into the parking lot I was happy not to see Nemesis’ truck but didn’t really expect him to be there anyway.  As expected as soon as the doors to the car were opened we could feel a nice strong breeze rolling through the boat yard, but determined as we are we thought things may still work out for us.  Pulling out the ladder and climbing aboard the first thing I wanted to do was try out my test hatch cover I made a few weeks before out of scrap fabric.  Crawling under the cover and on top of all the things we had strewn around under the deck I laid the template on top of the hatch and found out I was not far off on where I needed to be.  Good news as I could now go home and start the real thing.

The next order of business was for me to tape sheets of plastic around the boat to make a bubble underneath that would keep sanding dust and debris contained to the area of our boat.  After being handed the tarps and an almost empty roll of duct tape I worked hard to beat the winds from taking the tarps out of my hands.  On the side the wind was blowing I didn’t have much trouble getting it to stay on but as soon s I started working on the other side there was no amount of tape that was going to keep it on.  I was fooled once when I had half the sheet secured, but then a big gust came along and ripped it all off.  This was not going to work out.  Just as I had mentioned to Matt, the winds were too high and it just wouldn’t be possible.  You’d think that by now he would have learned that I’m always right.  Plucking the remaining tape off the boat I had to fight the wind again to get the tarps folded up properly.  Getting my mess all cleaned up I went to find Matt below deck and tell him that sanding would be a no go today, which he wasn’t at all surprised to hear.  The good news for me is that he wasn’t going to keep me out there all day with nothing to do and said after 30 more minutes of work he’d be ready to go home.

Guess who gets to clean up this mess in the future?

With the weather being so nice and me not having been outside much to enjoy it I grabbed the camera to take a walk with my new free time.