Sunday, November 30, 2008

Holiday Distractions ++

The holidays are my excuse for the week.

That and I am preparing for a new job that starts this week. Jobs are a double edged sword. With more income I can freely shop for the parts and materials I need. With less available time I will have to be more disciplined about getting boat work done in my limited free time.

I recognize that lots of boat projects fail mid-stream due to changing life commitments or the simple realization that the enormous amounts of time are not available. Its a worry for me but I think the worry will be my motivation. The boat is 'close' to being launch ready and I think I am still on target for a spring launch.

Not much was done on the boat this week. I did some shopping for a few small projects. I added some information to the website. The holidays are a bad time to get much done.

When I stopped by the boat today I noticed that my fancy boat cover is moving around. The wind is causing it to shift side-to-side; about a foot from its starting position as of today. I need to stake down the 2x4's that the tarp ties down to. Preferably soon.

Keep the faith.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Blah blah blah...

Working on other people's boats.

Jenny is safely tucked under her tarp and protected from the wet windy and cold weather.

I have hopes of working on the engine electrical box today but just in case I felt I have let the blog go silent for too long.

My thoughts on the electrical box are to re-use the original spice rack which originally housed the entire electrical panel. The real panel is going to be moved elsewhere but I have an expanded engine electrical switch box planned that will use the old location. I figure its inside and out of the weather and yet close to the cockpit so I can start up the engine quickly if I have to. Rather than use a normal key switch, I am going to use separate switches for the different functions of a key switch. Keys break. Keys get lost. Keys seem unnecessary to me so I am doing away with them.

Pictures soon.

Sorry for the lousy post but I figured a crappy post is better than no post.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Small steps

Nothing terribly exciting this week. I have been busy trying to find a real job to pay for my boat work.

Today I played hooky from things I really should have been doing and installed my cockpit locker lids. Its a minor thing but very satisfying after living with loose lids for the past few years. Its just one more loose end tied up.

Hmmm... what do I say about cockpit locker lids... They have 36 screws per side?...

I decided to reuse the old piano hinges. They function fine. They are not bright and shiny but I didn't see the need of dealing with getting new ones and cutting them to fit, filling the old holes, etc. New hinges would look old in a couple of years anyway. I never intended to build a completely new boat. I am happy to have a nice looking old boat. The old hinges work fine.

I used #6 flat head machine screws and nuts for the lid side. I thought I was going to do the same for the cockpit side of the hinge but the underside was pretty rough and uneven and there wasn't a good surface for the nut to tighten down on. I went back to the store for self tapping screws. Then I went back to the store again when I learned that #6 machine screw heads and #6 self tapping screw heads don't have the same diameter. The self tapping screws fell right through the holes in the hinge. I upsized to #8's. The heads don't fit great (slight lip on some) but good enough for now. I really can't stop to worry about little stuff like that. I guess I should have stopped and reamed out the holes with the countersink bit but I wasn't bothered enough about it to make the effort. I used Lifecaulk sealant (polysulfide) and I really didn't want to get my drill bits messy or deal with the extra hassle of having sealant everywhere. (it always gets away from me)

I have plenty of working room in the cockpit under the tarp. Here is a view looking forward.

The only other thing accomplished this week was finishing off the ends of the tarp system. Entry is a bit tricky. For now I have settled on simply pulling the ends of the tarp away from the boat when I am working.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


A picture says it all.

What really hurts is that I was using part of the rainy day to review my finances. I clicked the wrong button by accident. Seems I broke the $10,000 mark for the year already...

Of course that includes the new standing rigging, new roller furler, paint supplies, all that big stuff that I purchased early in the year before I was laid off. Sad to see how quickly it can go though.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Prepping part two

I continue to be plagued by visitors. I guess I shouldn't complain. At least today's visitor didn't spend all day telling me what I should be doing.

Yesterday, I got the 'foundation' built. I wanted something to tie the tarp down to and I wanted it to go under the boat so that it couldn't just up and blow away.

Basically, it is 3 twelve foot 2x4's running down each side with 2 2x4's running under the keel. The 2x4's running down the side are bolted so I can take them home and store them for next year.

Then the fun part. I have always admired Stimson sheds.

I even bought the plans. Unfortunately, they don't fit in the space I am in. They are taller and wider than I have available to me. I really wanted to try out some of their design features so I decided to use the double-strapping-with-spacers idea for a curved 'bow' that would hold the tarp out and away from the boat. The ridgepole is firmly on deck so the bows don't need to support anything.

The bows were custom fit in position which made them a bit tricky to fabricate. The inner strap was fed under the ridgepole and then the strap was screwed into the 'foundation'. Then I bent the bow to clear the sides of the boat and screwed it to the ridgepole. Then I added the spacers and attached the outer bow. What I hadn't factored on, however, was that when I released the pressure on the bow, the bow would spring up a bit, lifting the ridgepole and the fixtures I had built for the ridgepole to sit on. By the time I had made two opposing bows, the nearest fixture would be six inches off the deck. I tried holding the ridgepole down with ratcheting straps with no success. I did succeed in putting some pretty impressive bends in the ridgepole. My solution in the end was to live with the springback and when I was all done I added extensions to the fixtures so they were taking the load and not the bows. In the end I built 3 bows for each side (6 in total for those that are math averse).

Finally, I ran a length of strapping near the gunwale to keep the tarp away from the edge and ran vertical strapping, left over from previous incarnations of boat covers, from the ridgepole to the strapping. I did this about every 2-3 feet.

I still need to finish off the ends but with almost 2 inches of rain expected tonight, I decided to just throw the tarp over and finish it when the rains cease. It was dark when I finished up today so I couldn't take photos.

So far, I am on target to spend about $100 on the boat cover. I seem to spend about the same amout every year. Even though I re-use a good portion of last year's parts. At the rate I am going, I expect to have a complete barn that can be broken down and stored in my garage during the sailing season in about two years...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Prepping for snow

Another slow week but at least I have something started.

For my excuse this week I will say that I have had a hard time getting much done with the constant stream of people that come over and want to talk about my boat. The color really draws them in. Hours every day are spent talking about it. Its nice to be congratulated but frustrating to have to keep stopping.

Every year I have to reinvent my winter cover. Over my first winter, I had stanchions and pulpits. I was able to build a simple ladder structure along the stanchions with strapping. Then, I built a curving ridgepole with 2 layers of 1x3 strapping screwed together. The curve allowed me to have standing headroom inside where I needed it and reduced the total windage. I kind of liked the look too and it was no harder to build. With the sides and top secure, I ran short sections of strapping from the ridge down the the stanchion ladder. This gave me room to maneuver (note that I didn't say walk) down the side decks or over the top and the roof pitch was steep enough to shred every bit of snow. I built a cover with a lower pitch on my old boat and had problems with melting snow collecting in the tarp and re-freezing, creating 200 pound blocks of ice supported by the tarp. Not a great result.

The second and third winters I didn't have stanchions. I built a similar structure and just wrapped the tarp tightly to the hull. I didn't have any room going forward but I didn't need it either. It worked okay. For these two years I used 3-4 tarps to cover the boat with the idea that I could remove just one for some fresh air and light while keeping most of the boat covered. I had issues with rain blowing sideways under the tarp and I only used the multiple tarp system a couple of times in the early spring and late fall. Leaving the ends open was nice but having to deal with the water ingress over the rest of the winter was annoying. This spring I ordered one big tarp and simply covered everything. That made everything much drier inside but pulling it all on and off was a pain.

For now I am going to stick with the one big tarp idea. I don't have much, if any, deck work to do over the winter so I don't need access or need to remove the tarp again until spring. My real issue is that I can't wrap the tarp against my freshly painted hull. I was going to stake the ends down or build a framework on the ground to tie the tarp down (and out) with.

I tried drawing it all out but, just like every year, I find once I start things don't go according to plan and I wind up just building stuff until it all looks about right.

This year I built a couple of free standing supports for a ridge pole. I was going to cut notches in them and fit them to the toerail but now this seems like a lot of work for little gain.

The ridgepole itself is made up of strapping with 2x3 spacers every 4 feet. The idea was to build a rigid pole that was lighter than solid wood. I only half succeeded. Its definitely lighter but it isn't as rigid as I had hoped. Its good enough though.

I had some water pipe insulation around the house and I found that it fits over the toerail nicely to protect the toerail from the ridgepole supports.

I was hoping to build one side out so I could leave the ladder in place permanently and have a ready opening to get into the boat but that doesn't seem to be working out. First, I am limited to 12 feet wide. Second, I don't want to create one big sail to catch all the wind. Keeping the tarp close, but not on, the hull is my best goal. I even toyed with using shrink wrap and having a door glued in. I am still considering it but I still need to anchor the shrink wrap down to something and keep it from blowing off. I really wish I had stanchions right now. They would solve a lot of problems. What really kills me is that I could probably get stanchions installed in a day or so if I had the materials and if the weather was warm enough to pour some epoxy in the mounting holes. Alas...

That's where it stands at the moment. Tomorrow I plan on taking my old strapping and running short pieces from the ridgepole to the gunwale to support the tarp. By then, hopefully, I will have decided on how to anchor down the tarp. As a bonus, I expect most of the boatyard people will be working and I will be able to work without interuptions.

So, if you have nothing to do tomorrow, stop by and chat. I should have some time :-)