Dancing In the Dust

 Sunday May 6, 2012

Heading out to the boat today I had no idea if I’d be getting any sanding done since winds were right at that point where I might be able to get the tarps up or they might all come tearing off on me.  I’m beginning to loathe the wind and how it dictates my work.  Can’t wait until it’s dictating my movements of travel, but I think the lack of a professional job and experiencing different places will help to combat that irritation.  I was about to beg Matt to stay home and I’d maybe finish work on the dodger once and for all but he said that if I couldn’t sand he would need my help on the rudder.  We stopped at West Marine on the way to pick up some supplies for the day (where I noticed they had some Sperry Topsiders I was eyeing for Matt’s birthday that were in stock) but they did not have the filler we needed to do work on the rudder.  If winds weren’t agreeable I’d be stuck there all day with nothing to do.  When we pulled into the yard and got out of the car there were small waves rolling through the docks near our boat and I worried I was out of luck but the winds themselves didn’t feel too strong.  Both of us had checked different weather sites that morning and while the one I looked at showed winds going from 9 up to 16 mph in the afternoon the one Matt checked showed them only going up to 11 which since it was more acceptable to him of course had to be the correct one.  After years of studying forecast on multiple sites I can tell you the one starting with accu is usually not the most accurate.

Unloading all my supplies from the cockpit I tried to gauge which direction the wind was coming from so I didn’t have any openings in the tarp on that side and could hopefully use the full coverage on that side from letting wind blow in on other sides.  Conditions were so well when I started that I didn’t even ask Matt for help or put down the anchor chain. Of course once the third and last tarp was taped up wind started kicking in so I used both anchor chain and a few concrete blocks to hold everything down. We had given up on shore power so I ran an extension cord to the far docks for some electricity.  I had everything set up but just needed to grab a few more things from the cockpit.  Standing on the port side where I would be working that day I could definitely hear gravel moving by Nemesis’ boat and freaked out thinking he was there.  I don’t even know why I worry, we’re doing everything we’re supposed to and he shouldn’t have a problem with us, but if I can avoid him all together I would prefer to.  I didn’t want to spend my day having him tell me what he thinks we’re doing wrong.  Not wanting to use the main opening I had given myself by the bow for fear I could run into him there I made my way to starboard by the ladder where two tarps were overlapping.  Having used sheet stays on the top and middle to keep it closed to the wind I got on my hands and knees to crawl out the bottom and make my way up the ladder without being seen.  Up in the cockpit grabbing the last few things necessary, a sander is usually good to have, I stood out on deck searching for his black pickup but did not see it.  Going back down the ladder and around the front this time I found it was a man from a neighboring boat hooking himself up to shore power.  Guess it was back on after all.

Hoping to use this day to bridge the gap between the front and back I started putting on all my gear only to find out Matt had shoved my mask and goggles in the bag with the hose while cleaning up last week and they were absolutely covered in dust.  Making a quick trip to the restrooms to clean everything off as best as possible I finally suited up and got to work.  My arms were sore from the beginning but I had the same problem when I began last week and thought I just needed a little time to get my body used to the movements again.  I was also starting with an old sanding pad trying to get as many miles out of it as possible and that was slowing down my work as well.  Maybe I was going at the same pace as before, but without caffeine and other things to keep me going it felt like I was moving in slow motion today.

When I finished my first top to bottom section I went through the routine of vacuuming the dust that had accumulated on the hull and made sure to change the sanding pad stat.  If I needed to buy a new box to finish the job, so be it.  Just when I was getting ready to start the process again Matt came under the tarp from the rain that had just begun to do a little sawing for a platform he needed to place the watermaker on.  I had heard some thunder booming off in the distance for awhile and asked if I would be ok working through the storm and wouldn’t be electrocuted by the cords I had running outside.  He said not to worry which either meant it was a non issue or he was getting ready to take this journey as a single man with all my life insurance money.  Before he went back up to do work in the cabin he asked if I could sand down the fiberglass he had put over the throughull last week.  It wasn’t a problem to do it for him, but once I had finished all the rough edges really took their toll on the sanding pad and I was almost back to square one when I went back to working on other parts of the hull.

Working two more 6-8″ top to bottom sections I sat down to take a little rest.  Looking down the side I didn’t have too much more to sand before bridging the gap.  What I did have though was the whole underneath section leading to the keel and then the keel itself. It would be the hardest part where I wouldn’t be able to hold the sander right in front of me and use my body for leverage, but instead holding the sander above my head and only using the muscles in my arms to not only hold it there but to keep just the right amount of pressure on it too.  If I finished the easy part today and left only the hard part for next week I would die.  I’d be incredibly miserable and get nothing done.  So I made the decision to start working the underneath today and split up the job a little bit.  Sitting myself on the cradle I positioned the sander against the hull above my head and turned on the power.  15 seconds of work and then lower my arms for a rest.  Back up for another 15 seconds and then down again.  Sometimes I’d get a burst of energy where I could hold it up for 20-25 seconds.    By the time I had worked about three feet horizontally and only gone down about four inches vertically I was panting like I had just run a 5k.  My arms were burning and I needed a rest.  Since I still had a bean burrito in the car that I hadn’t eaten on the ride over I pulled it out and went back under the safety of the tarp to enjoy it.

While I was eating the winds had begun to pick up at bit more just like I had forecast them to (ok, or the website I chose) and I started to wonder if the tarps would hold.  Just as I was thinking this the opening on the windward side blew open and all my clothespins exploded off.  I quick ran out to put it back together and sat down again.  While I was finishing Matt had come down to see how much longer I wanted to stay and when I mentioned the winds were really picking up he gave me the ok to start cleaning up for the day.  I hadn’t even finished my burrito yet when the wind broke the tarp open again and even more forceful this time started plucking the tape off the hull with it.  At least it was helping me to do my job of taking it down.  Maybe it could help me a little more by blowing all of the dust away instead of me having to vacuum it.  (kidding!!)

I’ve Got Hose In Different Area Codes

Sunday April 29, 2012

After an incredibly frustrating day on Friday of making my way all the way out to the boat to not be able to do any work because the winds were just too high, I was in for vengeance today.  I checked the wind on Saturday where it showed nothing over 5 mph and then looked again this morning where it had gone up to 9-10 mph, but I’ll be damned if there was going to be anything to stop me today.  After checking the shore power agian to see if it was up and running and finding out it was not I began pulling extension cords out of the car and ran one to the slips on the other side of the marina where they did have working power.  Since it was a decently nice day out and it was  getting closer to Memorial Day weekend which everyone hopes to have their boat in the water by, the marina was getting crowded on this Sunday and all you could see were orange extension cords running through the boat yard.  After getting all my supplies underneath the boat I began to unroll the tarps and grabbed my Gorilla tape to get to work.  Wind had shifted to the Northeast today where our boat has the most exposure and I stupidly started taping on the starboard side where I always do as the wind is normally coming from the northwest and hitting this side which then makes the other tarps easier to get on.  I didn’t even have the first tarp fully taped when Matt realized the trouble I was about to get into and immediately released the anchor chain and started to put it on the bottom of the tarp to keep it in place.  He then helped by holding the tarp up while I taped, but by this point I was now on the Port side where the wind was hitting and automatically pressing it against the boat for me and helping block it from the other side.  Once I had everything taped I went to pull out the new clothes pins I had bought over the weekend, sturdier plastic ones, although whatever angle the wind was coming in at today still wanted to bust them off.  That’s ok, I had a back up plan.  In addition to the clothes pins I had purchased elastic (bed) sheet stays and after clipping them onto the overlapping parts of the tarp that baby was not going anywhere.

Since the tarp was blowing itself directly into the area I had been working on last time (4 weeks ago!!) I had no option but to start somewhere else.  Looking at the bow it was the only area on the Port side where I didn’t think I might get sufficated so I neatly set my blue tarp that keeps dust from falling onto bare ground under that area and brought my tools over.  The vaccum was a little harder to move becauser of the size.  Since it was all the way at the stern and I was trying to find the best way to bring it up, over, or around the cradle and get it to the bow.  I was finally able to get the large thing lugged over to the bow and then spent about another five minutes getting the hose untangled and brought over.  Soon everything was connected and plugged in and I could get to work.  The moment I had brought the sander up to the hull my arms had a slight ache and I freaked out thinking that I physically wouldn’t get anything accomplished this day.  After 60 seconds or so that feeling went away and I was happy to keep sanding along.  I’d do rows in three sections, the first where I’d stand on the ground going left to right sanding off an area about six to eight inches wide.  Then when the sander would start getting to eye level I’d get on the first step of my step ladder and keep working until I was again at eye level with my sander and then I’d move up to the top step and finsih the work going up to the water line.  And since 80% of the time I was holding the sander right in front of my body my arms would not get as tired and I wouldn’t have to take my long breaks to rest my arms.  I did however have to stop at least once, usually when I was on the first step of the ladder to wipe off my goggles since there was so much dust I couldn’t even see what I was doing.  After I had gotten up to the water line I would detach the hose from the sander and run it up and down the hull sucking up all the dust that had settled on it.  It was a nice little break from sanding, but it was surprising to see how much dust was building up today.  There seemed to be a lot more then the last time I worked but I just chalked it up to the extension cords taking away some of my power and therefore causing the vaccum that’s attached to the sander to lose some of it’s sucking action.

After even just one hour of working I was very pleased with my results feeling like I was getting a lot done.  Once I stepped back to take a look (as far back as the tarp would let me) I did notice that the bow can be deceptive to your progress since the closer you get to it the less area there is to sand.  I didn’t let it get me down though and kept working while getting closer and closer to the bow.  Although winds weren’t terrible there would still be a few gusts here and there and since I was working on the same side the wind was blowing there would be times I’d be balancing on the ladder and a strong gust would blow the tarp sharply against my back and shove me right into the hull while I was working.  There were a few times the sander got way too close to my face for comfort but luckily nothing was sanded off my face.  It was a minor inconvienence though the last straw for working in that area came when I was trying to get the very front part of the bow but since I had the tarp taped so tight in that area where it was wrapping around to the other side that it had no give when I’d try and stand on my ladder.  My nose was inches from the surface and there was no way to back up.  Without getting too upset about it I just told myself I’d tape much higher in that area next time to allow myself more room.

At this point I had been working two and a half hours and felt I deserved a lunch break.  Taking my Mt. Dew and what was left of my chicken onion teriayki sub from that morning I walked to the empty docks next to us and dangled my feet over the edge like a little kid while enjoying my food.  There was another couple a few docks down from me that had the same idea but they were smart enough to bring beer.  Those brown bottles in their hand looked better than anything I could have imagined at that moment and I’m going to have to remember to bring one out for myself next week.  Once lunch was finished along with a quick sprawl on the dock to satisfy my aching back I grabbed my goggles and made my way to the bathrooms for a good cleaning.  It was meant to be for the goggles alone but once I saw my reflection n the mirror I decided I needed a good cleaning too.  Washing my face and arms to get them back to a normal color I wiped everything down including my now shiny goggles.  On the way back to Serendip the guy two boats down from me stopped to talk a little as him and his wife were sanding parts of their bottom to get it ready for a new coat of paint as well.  I have to admit that even though I usually go home feeling pretty dirty after a day of work like this I had to look on the bright side because their boat had a bright blue bottom and after working on it his wife was starting to resemble a smurf.

Making my way back under the tarp I decided that instead of working back from the bow I would work on the areas near the stern I had not been able to finish on previous attempts.  First I started on the Starboard side where I had only worked the one day with my little Makita palm sander.  Now with the big Porter Cable in my hands I could really do some damage to the area.  Literally.  I had forgotten that one of the reasons I stopped working is the angles I was coming up on and I would dig too far into the surface.  Foregoing that area and leaving it to Matt (that’s one spot he actually wanted to do himself) I used the unusual strength and energy I was having this day to try and sand the underneath of the hull, something I was too exhausted to do before.  On the Starboard side I didn’t have much trouble lunging one knee forward to bring myself closer to the ground while holding the sander in front of me.  I did a pretty good job of getting most of it but stopped again when there were areas I’d dig to deep.  When I did all I thought I could on that side I moved to Port and worked that area as well, making sure to avoid the areas I knew my Porter Cable couldn’t go.  While my lunging had worked great on one side I was not having as much luck on the other.  My back foot would keep sliding and sliding leaving me almost doing the splits.  Instead of giving up all together I just gave up on standing and knelt on the rocky ground while trying to sand above my head.  It would work for about 20 seconds at a time and then I would have to rest for a few seconds bringing the sander to chest height before trying again.  This method only lasted about 10 minutes before I realized I was becoming completely exerted and wanted to use my energy where I could see a difference.

Moving all my supplies for the third time this day now I dragged the ladder, tarp, vacuum and all it’s hose back over to the bow area.  Just as I was getting all the cords plugged in again Matt stopped down to do a little work of his own.  A few weeks ago he had fiberglassed a new through-hole for the depth/speed sensor and he needed to sand it down.  Happily handing over all my tools I sat on the cradle sipping a new Mt. Dew I just opened, letting my arms and legs recover from the lunging and raising.  Unfortunately he was done in under five minutes but the good news was my energy was still still pushing on and I didn’t mind getting back to work.  It was becoming late afternoon and Matt had mentioned we’d only be there for about two more hours which meant only one more hour of work for me since it takes an hour to clean up (this mess) at night.  Starting to work aft I was able to complete three more six inch sections before my clock said it was time to call it a night.  Now was the time for vacuuming everything.  Vacuum the hull, vacuum the cradle.  Vacuum the tarp and vacuum the vacuum itself.  When Matt was helping me get everything put away for the night he asked if I was having any problems with suction from the hose that day.  I replied there seemed to be more dust than normal and power didn’t seem as strong as I was used to but I chalked it up to using extension cords and not our  shore power cord.  He came back that he’d found a hole in the hose which would have been causing me to lose suction all day.  Damn hose be actin up causing all kinds of problems.

After what felt like forever we had everything cleaned and put away.  I ran off to the bathrooms to change into clean clothes because I looked like Pig Pen from Charlie Brown when I moved.  Every inch of me was covered in dust and even though I had been wearing a mask and goggles all day my face still looked like it was covered in soot and it was very irritated.  I could not wait to get home and in the shower.  Walking back to the car before leaving I looked at the progress.  I was excited by how much I was able to accomplish and proud because I don’t think I was working at a pace far behind Matt.  It’s amazing what you can do in a day with a lot of determination.  And Mountain Dew.  And Adderall.

Finally Making Progress

Sunday April 1, 2012

Only two weeks into sanding and I was already starting to dread Sundays.  The hassle and 60 minutes spent to get the tarps up while the wind fought me every step of the way, working with a sander that did not get me anywhere, and having my whole body aching by the end of the day.  It may not have been so bad if I could tell that I was making progress or the end was in sight, but when we got to the marina and I took a look at the boat there was still sooooo much more to be done.  In my head I kept thinking that if I were to keep working at this pace every week we really would not finish this project until some time in the fall.

After getting everything set up for hte day I was ready to pull out the Makita when Matt said I should switch to the the Porter Cable he had been using in the fall.  He thought I’d get much further with it than what I had been using and it would make work a lot easier on me.  At first I was thinking this plan would not work at all because the thing was huge and I was pretty sure there was no way I’d be able to hold it up for more than 30 seconds at a time but I figured I’d work with it for thirty minutes just to tell him I tried and then go back to the Makita.

Lifting the heavy sander I turned it sideways so I could get a better grip, turned it on and held it up to the hull.  The moment the rough paper touched the paint it began to take it off immediately.  This wasn’t like the Makita where the paint would turn 3 different colors before I could see the white/gray hull.   Removing the paint wasn’t the full 6″ diameter of the sander but it was a few inches high by a few inches wide which was good enough for me.  Working the sander from left to right the paint would just fall off although huge clouds of dust always followed it.  When I’d start to get to an area where I was raising the sander enough so it was level with my face I’d pull out a little step ladder and keeping working my way up.  The progress I was now making with the larger sander was amazing.  In one hour with the Porter Cable I did more than one whole day with the Makita.  By the time I was nearing the end of my work day I had probably gotten 1/3 of the Port side of the hull done.  I hadn’t gone underneath the hull though because that would have actually required me to hold the sander above my head and I didn’t think I was ready for that yet.  My arms were still adjusting to the extra weight of the heavier sander and quitting time did end up coming 45 minutes earlier than normal.  I was still proud of my work though and in a tired but estatic  way I was thinking this project may actually get finished in the next few weeks.

Getting ready to start


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 did get 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.

Let the Sanding Commence

Friday October 21, 2011

In our attempt to get Serendipity ready for a trip around the world, or at least a few thousand miles down to the Caribbean, we want to give her the best treatment possible.  A boat spa perhaps where everything is updated, polished, cleaned and prettied up.  This includes getting her to a bare bottom so we can start fresh with the paint next year instead of adding layer on top of layer to the old one which is usually what happens.  While some people will do this by hand scraping alone which I can imagine would be torture, we were doing a combination of hand scraping and power sanding.  I had taken a day off work and we figured that between the two of us working two days this week and two days next week we could finish this project and leave the hull bare all winter before applying a fresh coat of sea-worthy paint before it hits the water in spring.

We had two sanders to work with that day, a large 6″ Porter Cable for Matt and a smaller 5″ Makita for me.  Although after getting the tarp down near the bow of the Starboard side, running the extension cords and hooking into the wet/dry vac we turned on our sanders and found there was not enough power for both of us to be working with the power sanders.  Since we both knew Matt could do more damage with a sander than I could he continued to work from the bow back while I picked up one of the hand scraping tools and started just behind him.  I found that it was nearly impossible for me to get down to bare hull using that tool alone, even the few moments I was able to put my full force behind it.  I didn’t want to give up that early in the day and leave Matt with all the work to do alone so I kept scraping off as much as I could going from the dark gray color on top to a bright orange that was below it.

Work was already going a little slower for Matt than he expected, even with the power sander.  He was using 80 grit sandpaper to try and keep as smooth of a finish as possible but it was also making the work go impossibly slow.  It seemed like there were a million layers of paint to get through and the sander was not going from gray to white right away like he expected.  I was hoping that when he got to my area it would be easier and quicker for him since I’d already gotten a few layers in.  Once he did get to a spot I’d been working on he said it did help and that it didn’t take as long to get to bare hull on the area I’d scraped vs the one I hadn’t.  Feeling like I did have a purpose out there I began scraping with a fury just to make sure I was always ahead of him.

After working a good six hours I had scraped nearly 1/3 of the starboard side while Matt had sanded close to 1/4 down to bare hull.  So maybe this won’t be a two weekend project after all.  Hopefully November won’t be too cold and we can get a few Sundays out here to finish it so this project doesn’t run into spring and we can focus on all the other things that need to be done.

Matt’s working hard

And I’m trying to (I actually did get much further through the layers than this)

We’re Going Green!

Friday June 11, 2010

Although there were A LOT of things we completed while the boat was in heated storage, work on a boat never ends and we are continuing to do work and make improvements.   One of the things we’re adding are solar panels.  Not only would it be nice to have one just for sitting at the mooring to have enough power to keep the fridge running, have enough juice for the autopilot and then a little leftover for the stereo and instruments….we will need a power source on our trip to keep these things running every day.  By the time we leave we’ll probably have three panels total, but for now we’ve only purchased two and one is going on the boat today.  This is a project that Matt couldn’t handle by himself (could you imagine a piece of equipment  like that accidentally falling into the water during installation?) so I joined him once I got out of work.

After unloading it from the car and gingerly placing it in the dinghy Matt took us to the boat and dropped me off.  He found out that morning while I was gone that he could get the dinghy on plane with only one person in it and wanted to show me.  With him and the solar panel left in the dink he cruised around at full throttle showing me how quickly he could zoom around.  Finally coming back to the boat he was showing off too much and didn’t slow down when he should have.  The side of the dink bumped into the boat, not a big deal because we were using the inflatable, but the corner of the solar panel was protruding off the side and caused a nice little scratch on the side of my beautiful Serendipity.  That will be a fun one to fix.  And Matt thinks I’m the accident prone one of the relationship.  Boys………..

Being extra careful we managed to get the panel from the dinghy into the cockpit.  This panel was going on top of the davits we installed earlier this year on the stern of the boat.  Working on my acrobatics again I had to position myself so that I was basically hanging off the transom but still keeping myself steady enough to support the solar panel while it was being raised.  Luckily we managed to hoist it on the davits without much trouble and from that point my job was more to keep it from moving than to keep it supported.  Matt had the panel quickly attached and was running wire to the charge controller which then brings the power to our batteries.  Maybe the gods felt bad that we’d already done damage to the boat that day and didn’t want to make life harder for us, but everything worked on the first try!  We were taking in power, and from just the one panel it was more than we needed for just weekends out.  Maybe we’d hold off on adding the second one until we get closer to leaving.  I have to say, it’s not too bad of a set-up.  With the wind giving us our movement and the solar panel giving us energy we’re on our way to a very green way of living.  Now I just have to count down the days until we’re out of our house, cars are sold, and we’ve joined the cruising lifestyle.