Arms on Fire

Sunday May 13, 2012


I’ll try and keep this post a bit short by covering three days at once because I’m sure you’re as sick of hearing about my sanding as I am of actually doing it.  I had taken another Friday off of work to get boat work done and was very worried that it was going to be just like last time where I wasted a vacation day to do nothing at all.  Winds were showing that they may grow to 15 mph, but this day they were coming out of the south and I was protected by land so they weren’t hitting as hard as they normally do.  Using concrete blocks and anchor chain as normal I got the set-up all squared away and went to work trying to bridge the gap between the bow and stern.  The first few sections I did were a little rough on me because I was still using the same sanding pad I had finished with last week trying to get as much use out of it as I could but it was taking forever to get the paint off and my arms were already becoming sore from holding it up for these longer periods.  After an hour of work I put a new one on and it made a world of difference, the paint started comming off like butter (if that term works here).  From that point I was able to start racing through the work or at least it was feeling like I was.

After I took my lunch break for the day I figured 2-3 more rows would have the full side finished and then all I would have left is the work underneath and on the keel.  But part of me was getting really annoyed with the winds blowing on my back and blowing me directly into the boat again.  Then my mind started grinding gears and I realized if I was out here two more days in a row, I didn’t want to save all the hardest parts for days I was already tired and weak.  Getting down really low I started working underneath the hull.  Unlike the stern area where I could lunge forward to work, this area had the cradle in the way so I had to sit on it while keeping the 10 lb sander above my head.  Doing better than last time I worked for a straight hour going as far down as I could before the sander would bump into the keel.  When I had done the whole area from left to right I took a short break and then set myself up again to do the higher parts starting at the waterline and working my way down.  I finished two more rows before my phone showed quitting time and I began the hour long process of cleaning up by vacuuming the dust from the boat, cradle and tarp, and then bagging everything up to stick in the cockpit.

Saturday morning I gave up my ritual of watching the previous week’s Amazing Race episode while sipping fresh hot coffee to go out to the boat for a half day of work.  Since I was unsupervised this time I made a few stops on my way out, one to buy Matt’s birthday gift and then a stop at Tim Horton’s since I had never been to one before and wanted to see what all the fuss was about.  I probably looked like a complete idiot to the girls behind the counter when I didn’t realize there were three different areas I had to pick up my donut, coffee, and sandwich.  The fact that one of my earrings had fallen out the previous day and I had forgotten to remove the other one probably didn’t help my case at all.  Pulling in to the marina still bright and early just after 9:00 I was greeted by an adorable pit bull that was tied up to the cradle of a boat a few down from me.  After getting the ok from her owner I spent a few minutes playing with her before I needed to get to work putting up the tarps while the winds were still low.

I had everything set up in less than an hour which I was impressed by since it was only me and I didn’t have Matt dragging the wet/dry vac down from the cockpit for me.  I ended up skipping the anchor chain this day and just using a few cement blocks, partly because the remote for the windlanss popped out of the locker killing the power and even though I could tell where it needed to be plugged back in I didn’t trust myself to get it in without breaking the fragile looking prongs.  Since I knew I only had 4 hours of work before I needed to start cleaning up to go home I used the same logic as the previous day by working on and area I knew would be hard.  Not even bothering with the large Porter Cable I pulled out the little Makita and sat on the metal bars of the cradle while beginnng to sand paint off the keel.  I remember the last time I worked with the Makita it felt like I was moving incredibly slow but I thought that was due to a lack of strength on my end and now I’d have some muscle to back it up.  Nope, something about that sander just takes five times longer to remove paint.  Working in sections 4″ wide and 24″ long it took me close to an hour to do one.  My dreams of finishing the remainder of my sanding this weekend were starting to get squashed.  I tried to work as diligently as possible but I did require more breaks than I had recently been using because this area of sanding had me constantly crouched over and I needed to get out and stretch.

Halfway through my day I took a break to eat my donut and after grabbing it from the car had to duck back under the protection of the tarp since winds were picking up and it was getting chilly.  My neighbor with the blue bottom boat and smurf-like wife I had talked to before saw me sitting and came over to talk about boat projects and overall plans.  We compared boat notes and after he told me that he’d been sailing in the area for 20 yeas I sheepishly admitted that I was in need of lessons before we left on the trip and asked if he knew about the races that were held next door at the yacht club.  He was surprised that after four years of sailing I didn’t have a full grasp on how to handle everything and agreed with Matt that I should know exactly what I’m doing by now.  Getting called out by Matt is one thing, but an almost stranger?  Ouch.  In my defense… I haven’t had anyone to train me or show me how to handle all the lines properly.  Matt was able to pick it up by reading alone and figured I should be able to do the same since it worked for him although I’m a total kinesthetic learner. Once I do the process and repeat it, it becomes ingrained.  Oh well, I’ll find a boat of nice people that I’m sure would love to teach me exactly what I need to know.  And lastly in my defense again, I may not know how to handle all the lines but I’m a kick ass helmsman.

Getting back to work with just an hour left before clean up I continued on the keel not making much more progress.  The wind was starting to blow pretty hard at his point and the tarps were having a hard time staying shut.  I started closing down shop about 20 minutes earlier than I had planned and was happy to do it since my back was killing me by this time.  It was also going to allow me time to quick take a shower and hop in bed for Saturday afternoon nap before I needed to start gettting ready for family things.

Arriving back out on Sunday morning we tried to get an early start since it was Mother’s Day and we had dinner planned at Matt’s grandma’s at 5:30 which meant another half day of work.  Getting into my routine I put my tarps up again for the third day in a row now.  My enthusiasm for the project was dying a little and what both Matt and I thought would be my big push of a weekend to get the rest of the paint of clearly was not going to happen.  I was just going to focus on the keel again and work on getting the paint off that area since it was turning into one of the hardest areas to sand on the boat even though it took up the least amount of space.  All the odd angles made for diligent  and time consuming work.  I should have pulled out the Porter Cable for the larger areas but it was so big and the area was so small.  I thought I’d be working with it for five minutes before I got into a small angled area and would need to put it down and work with the smaller sander anyway.  If I was smart that’s what I should have done because the area that would have only taken me five minutes with the Porter Cable was now taking me forty-five minutes with the Makita.  Live and learn I guess.

Knowing that I didn’t have to spend a full agonizing day there I did try and skip a few breaks and even worked past the time I told myself I’d start cleaning up at to get as much work in as possible and make sure the next weekend was my last one ever at sanding.  What I was left with at the end of the day was a keel that was sanded, but paint was still left on the fin and the curved area that connected the keel to the hull.  It of course wasn’t as much as I had wanted to finish that day but I think I still did a good job in the time I had.  I have to admit though that I’m so happy there was an excuse to leave early because three days in a row of that backbreaking labor was really starting to wear on my positive energy.  It was almost having me say things like ‘This trip isn’t worth all the work’.  So good thing I got out of there in time before Matt heard me and decided to use our money for a riverfront condo instead.  (Have I mentioned that he keeps talking investments and a condo would put us further ahead in life than a few years of traveling?  I need to get that boy back on the water and remind him what he could be missing)

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