Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pause button

I might have to hit the pause button for a bit; or at least slow it down a bit (yeah I know, how much slower can I go?...)

I did some shopping for the cherry lumber I need for some interior work. Immediately after I found a couple of bills waiting for me in the PO Box. I am still recovering financially from the launch push last spring and while I could make the stretch I really can't find the justification for it. I think it is better to get caught up with the old bills before starting some new ones.

The good news is that my annual boat costs are down this year. So far I have only spent $7k on the boat (which includes the $1500 for storage and $1200 for the rented mooring). That is down from over $10k spent last year when the decks and hull were painted and teak toerail installed. Last year was also when I spent 8 months unemployed so as you can see my balance sheet has taken a bit of a beating in the past year or so. Things are a lot better but still not quite where I would like them to be. Financial prudence and the upcoming holidays has made me think I should postpone the next big materials purchase for another month or so.

That is okay because 1.) I could use a break. I work five days a week at my job and 2 days a week on the boat. That doesn't leave much time for the other parts of my life (like house erands, fixing the car, etc) which are backing up at the moment. I also haven't spent a weekend with the girlfriend in nearly six months so I am probably about due.

I need to bring things back into balance a bit and rest up for the next push. In the meantime I will continue with some smaller projects already in the pipeline.

This weekend I managed to spend a few hours fussing with the boat and fitting the cabin sole. The angle between the cabin undersole and the hull sides vary from completely vertical to something like a 60 degree angle. While I could cut the bamboo plywood sole small enough to fit and then fill the gap at the edges with thickened epoxy I have decided to break out my Stanley #4 block plane and shape the underside to fit snug against the hull. Does it matter much? Not really. I gain about an extra two inches of width in the bamboo at the fore and aft ends though which I think looks much better than painted epoxy. And I have the time...

The cherry lumber is for the vertical bulkheads which I want to cover with cherry tongue and groove paneling. It is easier to put in the tongue and groove before the settee paneling because the settee paneling will cover the ends of the tongue and groove and save me the effort of having to fit the edges in tightly (which will most likely be covered with some sort of trim board anyway).

I am toying with my electrical system design but I am sure the component costs will run well over a thousand dollars so I don't want to get too ambitious there. Next year's goals are to finish any required deck hardware and get the basic interior paneling in place and have a workable interior. That and tie up a bunch of loose ends that I never got around to after last season's launch. The electrical system can wait. I will be working all of next year and won't have time for cruising anyway. Besides, I have already proven I can cruise with no electrical system. Deck hardware I need. FM radio is optional. Looking at the bare plywood paneling is wearing me down which is why the interior basics are next on the list.

So, a long ramble explaining why there is nothing to read this week. Next week is a holiday weekend but I might get some time in on the boat. I will post anything that gets done.

Happy Turkey Day!

Sunday, November 15, 2009


2 inches of rain Saturday. I didn't get any boat work done.

I did get a call Friday night from one of my boat neighbors because the front of my tarp was coming loose. He and another friend secured the front with random bits of string and advised me to fix it ASAP. That sure made me feel good all Friday night and Saturday morning as I listened to the winds howl...

In the past, I have rolled up a piece of strapping in the front edge of the tarp and clamped it all with spring clamps. This has always worked well and makes it really quick to open up. It is not going to work this year though. The problem is that the front of the structure is much wider than in years past and there is a lot more frontage for the Northeast winds to push against.

In a torrential downpour I secured the front of the tarp by wrapping the ends around the front pole and securing them to the bows. I alternated among the first three bows so as not to load up any one too much.

Last year I pulled the ends of the ground frame in towards the bow and you can see that last year's cover was a lot narrower and more pointed. You can also kind of see the clamping system I had.

So, I guess that means I won't be going in and out of the structure from the front as much. Luckily the back opens up nicely.

Today, after the heavy rains quit, I was able to draw some antifreeze into the raw water system using my nifty 'T' valve and spare hose. It took less than a minute. I put the end of the hose in the bottle. I threw the valve. I cranked the engine. The engine ran for about five seconds. The bottle was empty. I had antifreeze coming out the exhaust at the counter. Simple. I don't think I am going to worry about an oil change or adding Marvel Mystery Oil this year. The engine only ran for an hour and it still has a lot of MMO from last year's winterizing.

You can see in the picture all of the shavings from the bamboo plywood sole that is going in. I didn't have a chance to finish that up today. Its becoming a high priority item now though.

I also cleaned up and brought home all the extra lumber. I probably have enough to make a little workbench under the bow...

Monday, November 9, 2009 aka Tarps Direct

I have used Tarps Online aka Tarps Direct several times in the past six years and have always been quite pleased with their heavy duty silver tarps. I am pretty rough on the tarps and I get 2-3 years service out of each one. I know others that have been using their products for over 5 years and still going strong. So, needing a new tarp, I fully expected the new tarp to continue to impress me with its quality and longevity.

I ordered another 'heavy duty' silver tarp. Only time will tell but its not looking good.

This is a typical grommet. I mean typical in that they all look this bad. I didn't have to shop around for a provocative photo.

and another view

Sometimes the tarp makers had problems getting the grommets on the tarp.

The tarp is advertised as 'heavy duty' with grommets spaced 18 inches apart. Does this look like 18 inch spacing?

Can't read the numbers? How about now?

The spacing is highly irregular so tying two ends together is impossible since the grommets at each end don't line up at all.

I didn't have to wait long for my first tear. It came out of the package with a few holes already in the material.

Where the seams are glued together I can see lots of daylight. The seams look weak overall too.

Definitely no local craftsmanship here. I hope they made a good profit using overseas sweat shops, paying their slave wage earners a dollar a day. I hope they made a good profit because it is the very LAST profit they will ever see from me. / Tarps Direct is dead to me. You have been warned.

If I didn't have a schedule to keep I would have sent this piece of junk back. With winter weather fast approaching I don't have time to sort this out. I will happily spend twice as much for a REAL quality tarp the next time.

Okay, I feel slightly better now ;-)

Wrapping it up

The structure was up last weekend and this weekend was all about closing in the ends.

There was some concern from the yard staff about clearance from the road and conflicts with the snow plowing operations so I moved back the front frame about two feet. That leaves slightly less room up front but still plenty to work with and it makes the front more pointy which is probably a good thing since the boat faces in the direction of the highest winds (Northeast).

I ran a section of last year's strapping straight down from the front of the ridgepole and added a few pieces to hold it in position and give the tarp something to press against (and reduce some of the flailing).

Unlike last year I left the stern pretty flat. There are boats behind me to block the winds so I think I will be okay. The extra room under the boat is nice. I added some crossmembers at the stern to support the tarp too. They are only anchored by single screws at the ends which keeps the whole structure flexible. I don't want to create hardpoints anywhere.

Then I re-used a small tarp from a boat cover a few years ago and covered the stern end.

And then, with some help from a fellow boatyard neighbor, I pulled my brand new 40' x 30' heavy duty silver tarp and anchored it to the bottom framework. I will have more to say about that tarp in another posting.

I will left the tarp settle for a week and then tighten things up. I need to work on sorting out how I will get in and out too. Minor details.

And that is that. The boat is covered. This is boatcover version IV so we will see how this one works out. There is plenty of room inside. Full headroom at the foredeck and headroom and a half over the cockpit. The sides are tight but that is a restriction from the boatyard rules so I didn't have a choice there. A straight sided structure is the only way to improve that.

I have lots of dry storage room under the boat as well. Maybe I will even build in a workbench...

Now its time to get back to real boatwork. Winterize, finish that cabin sole installation, and then everything else.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The truth.

Okay, I stole this from another blog that I read, sadly, there is a lot of truth to it.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Framing up

I almost titled this posting 'Erection Day' but that somehow seemed innappropriate.

I erected the boat cover this weekend. The ends need to be finished off and the tarp pulled over but that can wait for a less windy weekend.

Saturday I connected all the frames together. Then the wind piped up so I decided to put my energies somewhere other than struggle with 16 foot bows in the howling winds.

Sunday was not much better but the urgency to get this job done meant that the wind wasn't quite as bad as the day before.

Not too much to say. I tied a strap on the bow and from the deck pulled it upright. Then I slipped it over the ground frame which in most cases was stiff enough to walk away from for a minute. I had scrap sections of strapping that I used to temporarily hold the bows into position. I just went down the line erecting the bows.

The ridgepole is in three sections. I dropped the middle one in first and secured it to the bows and then attached the two ends. I had some metal fittings from an earlier experiment so I decided to use them to anchor the ridgepole to the bows.

There is plenty of headroom in the middle on deck. I can't walk around but that isn't going to happen without vertical walls which are too pricey to consider right now. Its definitely an improvement over previous years.

I have some room at the ends of the boat. I didn't taper the ends of the cover much this time so I would have more storage room at the ends. Not much in the middle but again, I had to limit myself to 12 feet of width and this is about as good as it gets at a boayard.

With the bows up I had to re-adjust the whole structure a bit to center it over the boat. It really doesn't weigh much and it was easy to horse around into position. I added a couple of extra lengths of strapping diagonally along the inside to stiffen up the structure. I have a few more lengths which I might use next week but I am holding off for now to see how the ends are going to tie off. The ends need to be somewhat pointy to take the winds. Not so much from the stern but the bow points directly northeast which is rather open so a pointy end on the bow will really help.

Amidships the bows are a bit tight. There was more springback than I had anticipated. I will either have to stretch them apart a bit (next week) and/or add some chafe protection at the rubrails. The bows rest only lightly on the rubrails but I expect the structure to move around all winter and chafe will definitely occur if I don't do anything about it.

That was it for this week. I am looking forward to finishing up the cover next weekend and perhaps taking a short break from boatwork. Then again, I am anxious to finish the cabin sole installation and get to work on the interior so we will see...