disengage.ca a quest for the technomadic lifestyle

8Oct/123

Catching Up, Part 2: Boatyard

Round two of this set of blog updates, this is the chapter I like to refer to as "Dust, Pain and Exhaustion: Oh God, Not Another Boatyard", or perhaps "How I Spent My Summer Vacation: Part Four". It was a couple of months of hard labour in unpleasant working conditions, but we got through it and have a stronger, faster, more capable boat as a result.

 

first time hauling out on a trailer

first time hauling out on a trailer

We hauled out at 'Talleres Navales Bercovich', under the supervision of the main boss, Abel. That's not Abel on the trailer - that's Mark, or 'Tarzan', who was a great deal of help to us tracking down materials and figuring out random problems.

 

you're going to back us through that?!

you're going to back us through that?!

The guys in the boatyard were extremely capable with their equipment, and managed to back us through about a hundred meters of very, very cramped quarters between many other boats being stored for the summer months.

 

we must have hit the rocks at some point

we must have hit the rocks at some point

Once we had the bottom powerwashed and the boat blocked, we got started - clearly we had hit the bottom at some point. Whether it was dragging anchor in Tsehum Harbour in Sidney BC, or maybe when we dragged anchor in the A9 anchorage in San Diego, at some point we tore a bunch of fiberglass off the bottom of the rudder and the skeg on which it was hung. Time to grind it out and patch it over with new glass.

 

Miya grinding fiberglass in the sun

Miya grinding fiberglass in the sun

Miya took on the topsides as her main project - there were dozens of places where the 25-year-old fiberglass had cracked from expansion or been worn through or damaged, and each of those spots would have to be ground out, fiberglassed, sanded, faired, sanded, primed and painted.

 

building the base for the new forward hatch

building the base for the new forward hatch

We picked up a very nice new bathroom hatch at Second Wave, a used-sailing-gear store in Seattle, but I had never yet had the chance to properly install it. The old hatch coping had to be cut away, and a new lip had to be fabricated approximately one inch smaller than the old one, and then the whole thing would need fiberglassing for waterproofedness. This was a task I had been looking forward to for over a year!

 

you should really click this photo

you should really click this photo

Working in a boatyard quickly drops your standards - at the end of a day of grinding fiberglass a shower is critical, but this is what we had to look forward to... two inches of stagnant water and a large dead cockroach. If you were lucky you got to the showers before the sun went down - as soon as the site cooled off, the mosquitoes would descend in a cloud!

 

Miya laying up fiberglass patches

Miya laying up fiberglass patches

Miya continued to work on fiberglass patches, while I worked on structural patches on the hull. We had to make several trips to the marine store for more epoxy resin - we went through three large gallon-sized tins of resin (and accompanying tins of hardener), each costing about $180 USD.

 

fixing bubbles and blisters under the waterline

fixing bubbles and blisters under the waterline

You can barely make me out in this photo, but I'm working away under the port wing, patching ground-out blisters and bubbles in the hull fiberglass. The garden is still going strong at this point; you can clearly see the carrots growing out the rear window.

 

the rudder, removed for repairs

the rudder, removed for repairs

Eventually I realized that the rudder had more damage than previously thought, and it made a lot more sense to remove it to work on it. It also made sense to spend time overdrilling all the previous mounting holes, filling them with epoxy, and re-drilling them, giving the hard-working rudder a much stronger connection to the fitting hardware.

 

the damaged swing-keel

the damaged swing-keel

The swing-keel on a Searunner trimaran is simultaneously one of the best and worst features of the boat. It's the best feature, because it allows us to float happily in one meter of water, but if the keel gets damaged it's a real hassle to pull it out to repair it. The binnacle (the pedestal the steering wheel is mounted on) has to be completely removed, which means disconnecting the steering, the engine controls and a bunch of wires.. and then you have to drag the filthy thing up across the decks and lower it to the ground for repair. Our keel, being waterlogged from breaks in the fiberglass, weighed about 200kg!

 

our boatyard friend Doug

our boatyard friend Doug

The boatyard was apparently quite quiet while we were in residence, though there were a few longtime denizens to spend time with - shown here is Doug from Snug Harbour Sails, a salty old sailor who would come visit with us regularly and made the time in the boatyard markedly more bearable.

This photo was also taken shortly after the sun drove me a little bit nuts, and haircut one of two occurred... Miya helped, but mostly it was me sitting under the boat with the clippers removing the bulky weight of hair that was nothing but a liability in the yard.

 

grinding pointy nails off the ceiling

grinding pointy nails off the ceiling

Project after project slowly got done. For instance, those pointy nails in the ceiling of the bathroom, the ones that punctured both Miya and my head on numerous occasions? TERMINATED.

 

whoops, another bit of rock damage found

whoops, another bit of rock damage found

The more time you spend looking at the bottom of a boat like the TIE Fighter, the more damage you realize you have to repair. Looks like another bit of rock-rash here that'll need to be ground out and fiberglassed.

 

the end of another long, hot day

the end of another long, hot day

At the end of eight-to-ten hours of hard labour, punctuated by the occasional break to jump in the nearby ocean to cool down, there's very little that can be done besides crashing hard. In this photo you can also see the ill-fated broccoli plant on the right side of the garden, attempting to take over the rear cabin... we never did get any broccoli crowns from that plant.

 

Miya planning our next destination on our day out

Miya planning our next destination on our day out

At some point we realized that if we wanted to continue being sane, rational humans, we'd need to take a break from all this work. We packed up our things and took a shuttle bus back into La Paz, where we spent the day wandering and doing our best tourist impressions, much to the delight of the locals. Many margueritas later, we stumbled back into the boatyard.

 

cutting big holes in the deck

cutting big holes in the deck

During our time away, we paid a visit to Sea Otter Jimmy, a local with the same make and model boat as ours (though in MUCH better shape!). Jimmy's boat, s/v Sea Otter, had four more deck hatches than ours, giving him a tonne more wet-storage space for line, cleaning supplies, beach toys or whatever. We were jealous, so we took a bunch of measurements and decided to cut hatches into the TIE Fighter.

My tan is getting deeper and deeper...

 

a tiny sample of our nightly guests

a tiny sample of our nightly guests

The mosquitoes in the boatyard were TERRIBLE - and the TIE Fighter, having no sealing hatches (not that you'd want them anyway, the boat would become a sauna), was the idea place for them to congregate. Miya visited the fabric store and returned with this sheer fabric, which she made a series of overlapping mosquito screens with, hot-glueing them to the walls of the cabin around the opening to our berth. Several iterations later, we finally had our first good night of sleep.

This photo is just the ones we found dead at the bottom of the mesh at the end of the first night!

 

laminating the new keel, using rocks

laminating the new keel, using rocks

When I finally got around to grinding out the problems in the swing keel, as I ground around the edge of the keel the laminated plywood suddenly jumped apart, leaving me with a giant, heavy, waterlogged, delaminated mess. It was time to face the facts: that keel was finished, and a new one would have to be built.

I went to town and found a place selling plywood - I had six sheets shipped in, cut them into the shapes I needed and coated them liberally with epoxy glue, then laminated them all together by weighting them with heavy rocks while the glue dried. I also destroyed our angle grinder during the "shape the newly-laminated raw keel into a foil shape" stage of the construction.

 

freshly glassed new hatch covers drying in the sun

freshly glassed new hatch covers drying in the sun

The hatches for the newly-cut wet storage lockers are here drying in the sun, fiberglassed but not yet sanded or painted. I was pretty proud of my carpentry work on these - the hatches fit really nicely, and the extra locker space is definitely appreciated.

 

powerwashing off the old paint

powerwashing off the old paint

A month in, I finally convinced the yard that the best way to take off the old paint would be to rent me their largest power washer, which I knew would take the previous coat of (non-sticking) paint off, leaving the previous coat of (very good) two-part epoxy primer behind. The power washer was 7,000psi - compare if you will to the strongest power washer available at Home Depot being 4,000psi!

Also notable in this photograph are the second boatyard haircut, taking my hair down from the #4 clippers to the #1 clippers, or 1/8", and the fact that all the hard labour has kicked in and I'm looking a lot more ripped than before the boatyard. 😀

 

the paint on the topsides came off easily!

the paint on the topsides came off easily!

Sadly, I was very much correct about the paint on the topsides coming off with the power washer... but with the exposure of the grey primer came exposure of dozens - no, hundreds - of new problems with the fiberglass. It didn't help that the power washer also tore away any weakened fiberglass, probably creating at least half of those new problems, though it was pretty clear that those problems would have surfaced sooner or later anyway.

You can also see a bit of brown in the bottom right of the photo - Miya spent days on end repairing all the damage to the bows done by dragging the anchor chain up over the edges of the bows. We finally have a bow roller now, and will get around to installing it sometime in the near future.

 

...though powerwashing exposed a LOT more fiberglass problems

...though powerwashing exposed a LOT more fiberglass problems

With all the new patches, it almost seemed like we would have been ahead of the game to strip off the entire deck and replace the fiberglass, but it was a bit late for that - not to mention the price of fiberglass and epoxy in Mexico is prohibitive!

 

many of the newly-exposed patches

many of the newly-exposed patches

Another shot of the deck with all the new patches opened - before powerwashing we were pretty sure we were almost done with 'glassing the deck! It would have saved a lot of time if we'd been allowed access to the power washer much earlier on, but there wasn't much point in getting mad about it.

 

pulling out the propellor shaft

pulling out the propellor shaft

One of the big under-the-boat tasks was to replace the cutless bearings, rubber sleeves that hold the propellor shaft steady and perfectly aligned. Unfortunately to do this you really need to remove the propellor shaft, and I'd never done that before. Here Mark is heating up the propellor shaft coupling with a torch.

 

Miya's nickname in the yard: "Lady Polvo"

Miya's nickname in the yard: "Lady Polvo"

Miya's constant sanding, sanding, sanding of the deck earned her the nickname "Lady Polvo", where 'polvo' is spanish for dust or powder. The more we sanded, the more we had to jump into the ocean, which you can see about twenty meters behind Miya.

 

how to destroy a brand-new cutless bearing

how to destroy a brand-new cutless bearing

Once the replacement cutless bearings were acquired, the old worn-out bearings had to be removed. This I accomplished without much hassle, but when I went to put in the new bearing it seized halfway up the shaft - no matter how much I hammered it, it just wasn't going back in. I had the bright idea of heating up the stainless steel strut to make it expand and free up the brass bearing sleeve, but the end result was that the rubber part of the bearing separated from the brass part, rendering the bearing unusable. Nuts - that was a waste of a hundred bucks.

 

Miya diligently patching the deck

Miya diligently patching the deck

Miya, stalwartly continuing to patch all the deck problems. She was at this all day, every day, for weeks.

 

the rudder, fully repaired and re-hung

the rudder, fully repaired and re-hung

I finally finished up the patching and repairing of the rudder, and eventually we tracked down a new rubber gasket for the steering assembly - the black rubber bit in the center of the photo is actually the boot from the gear shift of a Mack truck, found at a place called "Diesel Professional" in La Paz!

 

a month in, and she looks far worse than when we started

a month in, and she looks far worse than when we started

It can be difficult to keep your spirits up when you've been working your fingers to the bone for over a month, and the boat looks far worse than it did when you arrived... but in reality she's much closer to finished.

 

the interior of the boat is starting to get less habitable

the interior of the boat is starting to get less habitable

...although now that we had to tear apart the kitchen to access the steering gear to reattach the rudder, there was a domino effect throughout the boat, and the normally tidy interior just kept getting more and more cluttered with tools and equipment.

 

many of the fiberglass patches complete

many of the fiberglass patches complete

This is the deck, two steps away from being finished. All of the brown patches are epoxy thickened with a talc-like powder, turning it into a fairing compound that flattens nicely and is very easy to sand. One more round of sanding, then a splash of primer, then another quick sand and she'd be ready for her final paint job!

 

the new swing-keel shaped, glassed and primed

the new swing-keel shaped, glassed and primed

Sadly I didn't take more photos of the swing keel during the construction process, but needless to say I was several long days under the boat with a large industrial-size angle grinder and an eight-inch 60-grit sanding disc, shaping the plywood laminate into a smooth foil. Two layers of 8oz fiberglass over the whole thing, then a PVC tube glassed into the pivot point to protect the wood, and finally several coats of industrial-grade two-part epoxy primer, and we're left with a swing-keel that should last for the rest of the life of the boat.

 

the deck, primed, sanded, washed and ready for paint!

the deck, primed, sanded, washed and ready for paint!

Once the fairing was sanded and the primer applied, a quick sand to make it all smooth and it's time to wash down the decks in preparation for the first coat of her final paint job!

 

installing the new radar reflector

installing the new radar reflector

After seeing all the big freighters and fishing boats offshore, we realized that our little wooden boat probably didn't show up all that well on radar, especially with our little metal ball-type radar reflector mounted six feet off the cabin roof. We did a bunch of research and settled on an EchoMax 230 reflector, that I mounted just above the staysail stay. Apparently this will make us look HUGE on a radar screen!

 

TIE Fighter with a fresh coat of (cheap) paint!

TIE Fighter with a fresh coat of (cheap) paint!

Once all the prep work was complete, the painting of the boat went very quickly, and we were done within two days. The bottom was taped and painted by the yard, but we rolled on three coats of latex-based housepaint quickly and efficiently.

In retrospect we probably should have just bitten the bullet and paid for the more expensive two-part epoxy paint. House paint is cheap and non-toxic, but it never really hardens completely, and you're left with more of a latex "skin" over the entire boat. Time will tell if this was a nightmare decision, but currently in the dry southern tip of Baja it is working out acceptably - there have been a few instances of the paint becoming tacky in wet weather though, and I am a bit nervous to see what will happen in damper climates, like the rainy season of Costa Rica.

 

wiring the binnacle so that we can remove it easier next time

wiring the binnacle so that we can remove it easier next time

As I mentioned, removing the swing keel requires removing the binnacle, which in turn requires cutting a bunch of wires. Rather than ever have to deal with that again, this time I added terminal blocks and ring terminals to all of the wires, so that they can be easily disconnected and reconnected. I'm a big fan of well-organized wiring!

 

Miya painting the bootstripe

Miya painting the bootstripe

The last step to painting a boat is always the boot stripe - a quick splash of color parallel to the water line. Jim Brown, the designer of the Searunner trimarans, says that a boot stripe can make the difference between a home-built backyard boat and a jaunty yacht, and so for the past two paintjobs we've added a grey stripe at the end. I am extremely fond of how this looks.

 

I did a poor job repairing the minikeel; live and learn

I did a poor job repairing the minikeel; live and learn

Apparently when you repair a keel you should use more fiberglass and less filler, as I discovered painfully when we finally got the boat ready to be lifted up and put back in the water. My repairs just didn't stand up to the pressure of lifting the whole boat - this was actually good to find out; if we'd been lifted with a travelift this error never would have come to light, and then next time we ran aground we'd be faced with a much larger problem. The trailer was pulled away and we spent an extra few days in the yard grinding and fiberglassing.

 

back into the water!

back into the water!

FINALLY, two months to the day since we'd been hauled out, we were back into the water. Of course, there was a strong wind blowing and as we drifted away we were blown right back into the shore, forcing the boatyard owner and his employees into the water, fully clothed, to help push the TIE Fighter back out into open waters before she ground onto the rocks... ahhh, memories.

More to come...

 

5Oct/121

Catching Up, Part 1: Pre-Boatyard

OK! So! It's been over six months since the last posting, and I'm finally just now finding myself with enough free time motivation to update the blog with what we've been up to. Miya and I just returned to La Paz after a month-and-a-half whirlwind "vacation" back to Oklahoma and Vancouver, respectively, culminating in a return to the Black Rock Desert for the incredible Burning Man Festival.

Regardless, we're back now and I haven't updated since March, so it's time to bring you up to speed about where we've been. There were four distinct chapters to the past six months: pre-boatyard, boatyard, post-boatyard and traveling back to the first world. I'll break these parts up into four pasts just to keep things logical.

So! Without further ado, here's some photos from the pre-boatyard chapter.

 

dehydrating fruits and veggies

dehydrating fruits and veggies

Miya picked up a food dehydrator online in San Diego and started drying fruits and vegetables. It's a lot of work, but the results are worth the efforts. Flashing forward a few months, Miya's mother actually bought me a hand-cranked apple peeler/slicer, which is something I'd been envying for a long time now, and Miya just dried the first batch of Red Delicious apple slices, which we've been eating all weekend.

 

another gorgeous sunset in La Paz

another gorgeous sunset in La Paz

La Paz certainly has no lack of natural beauty, and each evening we're treated to a spectacular sunset. It's gotten to the point that we're not easily impressed anymore, which is both amusing and sad; it's strange how quickly you can acclimatize to any situation, and no matter how otherwordly, sooner or later anything can become "normal".

 

Miya fishing near the Isla Espiritu Santo

Miya fishing near the Isla Espiritu Santo

We did manage to pull ourselves away from La Paz for a few days, and spent an amazing ten days or so living in anchorages on the Islas Espirtu Santo and Paritida, just north of La Paz. Uninhabited, the islands are beautiful rocky deserts surrounded by blue waters teeming with fish. Here Miya is pulling in one of her trolling lines - the colors above her are the woven hammock we found in La Paz.

 

dinner acquired!

dinner acquired!

Aside from trolling from the TIE Fighter when we're underway, Miya also enjoys trolling behind the inflatable dinghy when we're exploring, and in this case she landed some sort of fish that we have never managed bothered to identify. Is it a bonita? Who knows! It was delicious.

 

another sunset, from an anchorage on the Isla Espiritu Santo

another sunset, from an anchorage on the Isla Espiritu Santo

Certainly sunsets at anchor in the city are beautiful, but they've got nothing on sunsets in (nearly) empty anchorages out on the islands! This was taken in the northernmost anchorage on Isla Partida. Not shown is the 35kn winds that picked up after midnight - we had a 15kg 'Delta' anchor down, but I jumped into the dinghy in the pitch black night to kedge out a second anchor just in case... we're able to anchor the TIE Fighter very close to the shore due to her shallow one-meter draft, but when the wind picks up the rocky shoreline starts to look terribly dangerous...

 

the anchorage in daylight

the anchorage in daylight

The anchorage on Isla Partida in the daytime - nowhere near as scary in the daytime!! Funny how howling winds and pitch black with no moon can turn even the prettiest tropical anchorage into a scary place. Here we could swim to shore and hike up into the hills, which were riddled with sandstone caves, some of which showed signs of being inhabited hundreds of years ago.

 

dinner with greens from our garden

dinner with greens from our garden

Summertime brought excellent growth to the garden, and Miya explored the local grocers to feed us with the best things she could find... here is avocado, tuna, eggs, potatoes and peppers served on green lettuce from the garden.

 

another round with the dehydrator

another round with the dehydrator

Nothing quite like harnessing the sun to help with food production!

(sure, that's what I like best about this photo... the dehydrator... right...)

 

I... well... joined a volleyball team.

I... well... joined a volleyball team.

Leading up to "Bay Fest 2012", a call would regularly come over the VHF radio - "Volleyball practice today, 5pm, no experience necessary!". Back when I was a young pup I enjoyed beach volleyball every summer at camp, so it wasn't too great a stretch to think I might enjoy it again. Despite not having volleyed, bumped or spiked in well over twenty years, I got back into the routine very quickly and greatly enjoyed the activity.

 

Miya as the demonstration-babe for a safety seminar

Miya as the demonstration-babe for a safety seminar

During Bay Fest, one of the seminars was put on by our friends Rob from s/v Keetya-1 and Will from s/v Shaman - they enlisted Miya to help with their "Safety Aloft" session, teaching us the basics of working safely on a mast.

 

our friends Tim and Meredith from s/v Luckiest, and Jody from Avatar

our friends Tim and Meredith from s/v Luckiest, and Jody from s/v Avatar

The end of Bay Fest was a big costume party blowout, but very few of our new friends had costumes - this wasn't a problem, as both Miya and I travel with a big tickle-trunk of costumes each. We were able to costume Tim and Meredith from s/v Luckiest, though Jody from s/v Avatar already had his own costume planned out.

...and that brings us up to the 2012 haulout, which I will have to present as another blog post.

 

31Dec/102

What I Did On My Summer Vacation – August Edition

Given that we're a few hours away from 2011, I guess I should probably clear this posting out of my 'drafts' folder!  This is the third and last installment of the 'Summer Vacation' blog series; the series of photos showing the brutal amount of work done to Tie Fighter over the summer months.

If by some chance you missed the June and July editions, I recommend you read those first.  Without further ado:

up on the hard, repairs proceeding

up on the hard, repairs proceeding

With the sanding finally finished, it was time to re-tape the hull and apply the primer paint. A darker shade of gray paint was chosen, because while white paint reflects the visible spectrum of light and doesn't absorb heat, it still allows ultraviolet light to pass through which will eventually destroy the fiberglass.  The pigment in the gray primer absorbs the UV light, protecting the fiberglass underneath.

In this photo you can also see the patched hole in the hull near the main bow, where I removed and replaced the oddball old, seized 2" ball valve for the head output with a proper 1.5" stainless valve.  While I had her out of the water I replaced all of the old ball valves with new stainless valves, and removed and sealed up two that weren't used anymore... the handle on one of those ball valves had rusted completely off and the outlet had been capped off with a copper pipe cap.  I have no idea what that through-hull was for originally but it obviously hadn't been used in years and was a liability.

hulls primed!

hulls primed!

This is what Tie Fighter looked like primed with the military gray paint.  I loved the way she looked, and if it were possible I would have left her this way - the problem is that as a wooden boat, she has to be painted white.  Anything darker absorbs heat, and causes the wood hull to expand and contract, which will eventually cause the fiberglass to separate from the hull.  If that happens, moisture (via condensation) will form between the fiberglass and the wood, and eventually the whole boat will rot from the inside out.  So yeah.  White.

Pity though!  I wished I could have just painted a big white number on the side and left her this way - she'd look like a Canadian warship!

head and forward locker painted

head and forward locker painted

While she was up on the hard I might as well use some of the extra epoxy paint to update the insides... here's the head, prior to ripping out the toilet, pedestal, floor and... well, everything really.  The head is much nicer now, as you'll see in later photos...

topsides primed

topsides primed

After the first coat of primer went on, the whole boat had to be sanded again and wiped down with solvents before the second coat..  Those sanders went through hell and back, and the solvent fumes made us dizzy and melted several pairs of rubber gloves.

In the background you can see that it's garbage day in the boatyard; all the dumpsters are being lined up right across from Tie Fighter, so that the garbage trucks could spend an hour making a huge racket at 5am.  By August we didn't even hear them anymore - after long hard days in the sun, sleep was deep.

James rolling and tipping in the dark

James rolling and tipping in the dark

Once the second coat of primer was on and sanded, it was time to put on the first coat of the finish paint, Interlux 'Brightside' white.  The paint is a single-part polyurethane - which we now know isn't a good thing to put over top of a two-part primer (ie, paint that comes in two cans, a base and an 'activator', which need to be mixed together before application).  Brightside gives a very professional-looking finish when "rolled and tipped"; first the paint is applied with a roller, and then you lightly brush over it with a foam brush to knock out all the tiny bubbles, leaving a sexy, glossy finish.  When we finally figured out how to do it properly we worked long into the night painting the hulls, fighting off the swarms of mosquitoes from the nearby swamps that showed up every night as soon as the sun went down.

Tie Fighter, white!

Tie Fighter, white!

Within a couple of days, the whole boat was shiny and white.  At this point, however, catastrophe struck - the paint on the bottom and hull was drying properly, but the topsides didn't seem to be drying at all!

I don't have clear memories of the next few days - I do remember being brought closer to tears of frustration than I have been in many years.  Dark times indeed.

At least the paint on the hull sides and bottom seemed to be drying properly... the primer used there had been a two-part epoxy primer by Interlux, but the topside primer was a two-part epoxy from a different company, and as far as we could tell it didn't dry the same as the paint on the bottom, and the off-gassing of the primer drying caused "solvent entrapment", causing the Brightside to still be tacky three days after application.

topsides, sanded down again

topsides, sanded down again

We had no choice but to sand all the new white paint off and start over from the primer again.  Two more solid days of sanding nonstop, and we were back to square one.  Sanding gummy, partly-dried paint is way more work than sanding old, dried paint, and we went through hundreds of sanding discs.

forward bilges, epoxy paint drying

forward bilges, epoxy paint drying

Since there were three of us sanding, but only two sanders, we took the time to gut the bilges in the forward cabin and apply a couple of coats of thick, tough Interlux 'BilgeCote' epoxy paint.  Wow - the bilges went from a dark, dirty, scary gutter to a reasonably nice place for extra storage!

hatches drying in the sun

hatch covers drying in the sun

I had nearly forgotten about the hatch covers - all of them needed minor repairs, a good sanding and several coats of paint.  A few days of work and they were shiny and new again.

In the background is James' tent, which he lived out of for several weeks.

topsides white

topsides white

FINALLY, the topsides were painted again - it took far longer than expected, and I got my first sunburn of the summer, working 14-hour days trying to get this goddamned project finished and back in the water!

In this photo you can see the repairs to the front window evident, now that it's all one color; I thought I had spent enough time sanding the area, but I guess it could have used one more pass with thickened epoxy and another hour or two of sanding.

applying the BC vessel registration numbers

applying the BC vessel registration numbers

The registration numbers going on, for the first time.  The VPD would be pleased about this, since they'd fined me $100 earlier in the summer for not having them displayed.  That was my first police fine since a speeding ticket fifteen years prior!

I love how shiny the hull is in this photo!

masking tape removed

masking tape removed

When the tape finally came off, she was looking amazing!  I had many boatyard folks come over to congratulate me on the work, saying how impressed they were.  Dan, James and I had been working on her nearly every single day since the start of the summer, and it was finally starting to show.  Of course, there was still a tonne of work to be done before she could go back into the water - but at least the outside was (mostly) finished...

Tie Fighter, shiny in the sun

Tie Fighter, shiny in the sun

Ernst came out to visit and take a few pics with his fancy camera-on-a-stick rig - a long, extendable monopod with a remote trigger.  He got this shot and the next one on a beautiful sunny afternoon.

Tie Fighter, ready for intergalactic battle

Tie Fighter, ready for intergalactic battle

This is probably my favourite shot of the entire summer - she just looks so fast and smooth!  The decks are so shiny - of course, we'd still have to apply two more coats of paint yet, a couple of coats of anti-skid paint so that walking across the wet deck wouldn't result in a swim.

Kym painting the bootstripe

Kym painting the bootstripe

Kym came out and spent a few days in the boatyard to help with the work - she had some time off, and as someone who enjoys working on boats she was happy to help.  I put her to work taping off the bootstripe, a just-for-looks stripe around the base of each hull.  This was a much larger job than either of us anticipated, and taping alone took almost seven hours!

Tie Fighter, bootstriped

Tie Fighter, bootstriped

With the masking tape removed, the bootstripe looked fantastic, well worth the effort.  The Searunner Construction Manual says that a bootstripe can make the difference between a boat and a yacht.

aft cabin, workshop mode

aft cabin, workshop mode

With all the work on the outside, we had pretty much completely neglected the interior of the boat which was still completely gutted.  If I had any intention of moving back into the boat as my home there would be a lot of work to be done yet!

tearing apart the head

tearing apart the head

I found a new marine toilet - a Groco 'Model K' - on Craigslist for $200 delivered.  Given that the Model K retails for over $1000, I thought this was a great chance to upgrade my bathroom facilities, and jumped on the deal.  The new toilet was a good 10cm taller than the old one, however, and so the pedestal would have to be lowered - it was as good a time as any to rip everything out and start from scratch.

remasted!

remasted!

Once the chainplates were reinstalled and the two coats of antiskid paint were applied, it was as good a time as any to get the mast back up.  Michael Flynn took the day to come and help re-rig Tie Fighter - his help was welcomed, especially since he's a professional rigger with a tonne of sailboat experience!

up the mast!

up the mast!

Of course, re-masting the boat left a chunk of rope at the top of the mast.  Someone had to go up to retrieve it, so I tied my climbing harness into the mainsail halyard and Michael cranked me up with the main winch while Kym tailed the line.  This was the first time I'd ever been up the mast.

good riddance, work pants.

good riddance, work pants.

During that day, at some point I was pulling some line and managed to tear the entire crotch out of my work shorts.  Last year, I wrecked probably half of my wardrobe when working on the boat - this year, I decided early to designate a single pair of pants as my work pants, and I spent most of the summer in these shorts.  By the end, the legs were so thick with paint and epoxy and sweat that they were stiff, and the pants could almost stand up on their own!

fantastic pic from Ernst

a beautiful art shot from Ernst

Ernst came out again to take a few more shots of Tie Fighter - I finagled him into helping me reinstall the centerboard at this point, which was a brutal job - the centerboard trunk is approximately three meters long by two meters deep, and there's a 3cm hole in the centerboard itself which needs to match up to a pair of 3cm holes found deep in the bilge.  The process of reinstalling the centerboard is much like threading a needle, only with the needle being 100kg and needing a winch to move it.  After several hours trying, Ernst came up with the final solution which was to draw arrow lines radiating out from the centerboard's hole, and to look into the trunk with a flashlight to see the lines.  Once the lines were drawn, we had the centerboard lined up and the holding pin installed within minutes!

Scott laying the traveler

Scott laying the traveler

My brother-in-law Scott came out to help with a few of the final rigging tasks, between working and school.  Here he's lining up the bolt-holes on the traveler.

rigged and ready

rigged and ready

FINALLY, she was ready to go back into the water.  I was filled with pride - this was by far the largest and most difficult project I'd ever been a part of, much less in charge of.  I took this final photo - you can see my bicycle aboard, ready to go back to living   on the water.

lifting her up...

lifting her up...

The dinghy was lifted back up onto the deck by a friendly forklift operator, and the lifting straps were put into place...

carried across the yard...

carried across the yard...

Across the yard we went!

...and dropped back into the water!

...and dropped back into the water!

On August 24th, bright and early in the morning, Tie Fighter finally went back into the water.  Fortunately, she floated and all of the hull repairs proved to be watertight.  Unfortunately, we hadn't had a chance to do any engine work yet, and so I couldn't really do much besides motor down a few hundred meters and dock at C-dock, where I would spend the next two months continuing to repair and upgrade the inside of the boat.

the finished head!

the finished head!

At C-dock, I had time to finish the head.  Here's a shot of the toilet installed, with the holding tank plumbed and secured to a shelf with ratcheting tiedown straps.  Technically this photo is from mid-September, but I figured it would be best to include an "after" shot, given the two or three "before" pics.

As the summer came to an inevitable close, I spent a lot of time feeling bitter about the fact that I had spent the entire warm-weather months doing something that I thought would be completely finished before the summer even started.  I had really wanted to spend the summer living the Vancouver lifestyle, bouncing from beach party to afterparty, sailing as much as possible, and having a great time.  Instead it was several months of hard labour ,while paying through the nose for the privilege of doing so.  It was my friend Dan Ross who set me straight; I was complaining about the loss of the summer when he said something like

"Actually", he said, "I have to say, this has been probably the most interesting summer of my life - I've learned a tonne of new stuff, and been a part of a large project that we finished.  I can't say I have a single complaint."

I was broadsided by that statement but when I thought about it I had to agree.  It was the most interesting summer in memory, and at the end of it all I have my home to to show for it.  She still has a tonne of work to be done, but she's solid, stable and floating, and eventually she'll take  me wherever I want to go.  The weakest link in the chain is me, and that's a lesson - paid for dearly - that I'll always have.

9Nov/102

What I Did On My Summer Vacation – July Edition

Continuing the saga from my previous posting, I bring you the photo-journal of the second month of my brutal summer adventures in the Shelter Island boatyards.  Rather than re-introduce the situation, I'll just jump in...

rain cover

Canada Day brought intermittant rain, so mostly we just worked under the boat, sanding the overhead panels and getting our feet wet in the ever-growing puddles that pooled inexplicably under the boat instead of draining to the nearby sewer grate.

centerboard

By the time the rains stopped, the hired boatyard labourer guy had finished grinding off the old bottom paint down to the reddish epoxy barrier coat, before disappearing for a few days - something that would become a recurring theme in the next few weeks.  At least the labour was relatively cheap, and honestly the task of grinding off old bottom paint wasn't something that DR and I were interested in tackling ourselves.  Bottom paint on sailboats is "anti-fouling", meaning it contains nasty poisons, so that things like mussels and barnacles and seaweed won't be able to grow on the surface of the bottom of the boat.

Let me repeat that for good measure.  Many things on worksites are poisonous, but usually the 'poisonous' property is secondary, ie. things like motor oil are lubrications that also happen to be poisonous.  Bottom paint is poisonous because that's what it was designed to be:  poison.  Grinding off old bottom paint throws literally pounds of poisonous dust into the air - no matter how good your respirator mask is, there is no way to make the job any more pleasant!

powertool party!

For the first few weeks, we cleaned up the worksite carefully every night at around 8pm or so, in accordance with the boatyard rules.  By the end of July we were pretty much leaving the tools where they fell, and picking up each job the next day right where we left off.

bottom primed

After not showing up for several days (and getting kicked off the worksite following a yelling argument with the boatyard foreman), the hired labourer showed up and finished the job.  Finally the bottom grinding was complete, and the bottom was primed with a grey epoxy barrier coat!

sequential circus 7 pre-show setup

July 3rd brought 'Sequential Circus 7', an electronic music concert/party/show that I (with a large group of dedicated friends) throw every six months.  Fortunately we've been doing this for years now, and everyone really knows their jobs well... there were no hiccups and the show went off without a hitch.  By all accounts, a great party.

starboard underwing rot repair

In the starboard wing is a special locker for a horizontal propane cylinder.  One of the critical points of keeping propane on a boat is ventilation; because a boat is watertight, and because propane is heavier than air, a propane leak can lead to a boat full of propane, silently awaiting a spark.  More than a few boats have been blown apart by a bilge full of gas!

The locker must have holes in the bottom of it so that leaked propane can escape - however, some previous owner didn't properly seal up the edges of the holes in the wooden floor of the locker, and as a result they rotted through.  What looked to be a couple of small (ie a half-foot square) patches of rot turned into a 3'x4' patch in the hull of the boat.

line locker completed, sort of...

We found a bit of rot in the bottom of the line locker (a locker for ropes and anchors, in the port wing) as well, so we gutted and replaced a few panels in there.  I wish I had a 'before' photo - the angled bit at the far corner of the locker used to be a pair of five-inch holes with an old corrugated steel elbow joining them; a tunnel to provide ventilation between the inside of the forward cabin and the port ama.  The kicker: the steel elbow jutted out into the foot of the guest bunk, and would cut your toes if you kicked it wrong!  I replaced it with a plywood enclosure and rounded and filletted all the corners, and added a vent grating to the inside of the cabin.

This project took a lot longer than expected - in this photo it looks complete, but it took another week of work afterwards, due to stupidity on my part.  I had found a can of paint labelled 'Neutral Base Coat' in the old supplies that came with the original purchase of Tie Fighter, and I had also found a can of white epoxy paint, the same brand.  I figured they'd be a good match for the heavy traffic of the line locker, a good base coat followed by a tough layer of epoxy paint.  The funny part was that the "neutral base coat" was bright orange!  I was a bit run down at that point, so I assumed that they must mean chemically neutral, and so I applied the base coat, waited a day, and then applied the white epoxy coat on top of that.

A week later, the white epoxy paint could still be peeled off with a fingernail, exposing the still-wet orange oil based paint below.  I finally figured it out: orange paint is something that multihull sailboats are supposed to carry as a safety precaution... should the boat ever flip over at sea, you are supposed to paint 'HELP' or 'SOS' or something on the hull in orange to assist the rescue.  I had used my rescue paint on my line locker, and worse, it was incompatible with my epoxy coat.  I had to painstakingly remove all of the white and orange paint, using scrapers and solvents, before being able to paint the locker white again.

aft cabin disassembled

The next few weeks were the hottest days of the summer, and any job that didn't require being in direct sunlight was infinitely preferred.  We began gutting the salon.

Trent sanding the starboard ama stern

I actually managed to pull Trent away from his insane summer schedule of school, work, and conference preparation.  I think this was the only day he took off from his SIGGRAPH submission deadline...

Carrie patching the main hull

Carrie also made it out several times to help out with the labour - though her biggest contribution by far was the loaning/renting of her Ford Bronco for weeks at a time, without which many of the jobs could simply not have been done.  We must have made the trip to Home Depot two dozen times.

bottom paint completed!

This photo shows the bottom of Tie Fighter in her 'dress black'.  The grey epoxy barrier coat first received a coat of red antifouling paint, then a coat of black - this way we tell how much of the antifouling has worn off just by the color of the hull.

propellor ground down and shiny

The propellor, after having years of barnacles polished off with the angle grinder.  Two large shaft zincs were later attached.  I would have liked to swap out the propellor with a folding one, but we were unable to find one of the appropriate size and pitch within my price range while the boat was out of the water.

bow rail rebuilt and complete

This photo shows the newly-repaired bow rail - the brown strip at the top of the hull, basically the edge of the deck.  The rail was rotted when I purchased the boat, and was one of the first things I attempted to repair in the summer of 2009.  In the year following, I learned so much more about woodworking and fiberglass that I tore out the previous year's repairs and re-fixed the rail... properly this time. 🙂

centerboard damage repaired

This is the centerboard, tilted up so that the water inside could drain, while the fiberglassed repairs to the leading edge cured.  You can see the multiple layers of barrier coat and antifouling paint, as well as the spots where the paint and even the fiberglass had worn completely through, exposing the wood underneath.

hack, slash, etc

Another "tiny patch of rot", at the base of the forward window.  We learned pretty early on that it's far simpler to take out an entire panel than it is to try to patch a section at a time.  This was probably my favourite repair of the summer - by this point I had gotten the hang of the repairs, and this one went smoothly and very quickly, probably four days from start to finish.

The nasty part is that all of the dust you can see on the right side of the photo is powdered fiberglass.  I always wear respiratory protection when working with fiberglass, but there's just no way to keep the dust off of your skin.  Taking on a job like replacing this window frame is resigning oneself to at least a week of itching.

rot in the aft cabin

Yet another "little patch of rot"... this one has never actually been finished, in fact.  I still have to cut the replacement board and fit it into place.  One of these afternoons...

front window repairs ongoing

The forward window fiberglassed in and partially faired - the next few steps are just adding fairing compound (epoxy thickened with a talc-like filling powder), spreading it out as smoothly as possible, waiting for it to cure, then sanding it down until the repairs completely disappear.

removing the space invader

As a symbolic first step towards painting the boat, my signature 'space invader' stickers had to be removed.  I have a few more of the stickers, and eventually they'll be re-applied, but for now this was the end of the first chapter in the book of Tie Fighter.

masthead upgrades

The mast-head instruments never really worked.  More specifically the wind speed indicator and the apparent wind indicator were completely smashed; you can see them lying on the ground in this photo.  I looked into modern replacements, but a set of modern instruments can easily run well over $2000!  I tracked down the company that made my instruments on the internet, and though they no longer make sailing instruments, they still had replacement parts in stock.  A set of replacement masthead instruments ran me about $350.  I also took this opportunity to replace the masthead 'tricolor' light with a combination tricolor and anchoring light.

cockpit floor started

The largest and most scary repair was the centerboard trunk - we had found signs of rot in the trunk walls, the sides of the housing for the centerboard.  This section is often referred to as the "backbone" of the Searunner trimaran, and rot in here would eventually destroy the boat completely.  I left this job for last, so that I would gain experience from all the other repairs and do the best job possible.  The first step to fixing the centerboard trunk would of course be to remove the sections of the cockpit floor that had also shown signs of rot and would need to be replaced, and to gain access to the top of the trunk itself.

cockpit floorboards drying

cockpit floorboards drying

The new cockpit floor would be exactly like the old cockpit floor - 3/8" marine-grade plywood, soaked in epoxy thinned with acetone and fiberglassed.  This would be a very high-traffic area, completely exposed to the elements for many years to come, so we took our time to make sure that the replacement boards would done perfectly.

DR painting the port ama

While I worked on the cockpit, I had DR painting the inside of the port ama.  This was very possibly the harshest job of the summer, and DR was slightly more suited to the task than I, having a somewhat leaner frame than I as well as significantly more painting experience.  I did not envy him the task, but he did a really great job on it.

James scraping the windowsills

In mid-July I had another friend come on nearly full-time to help with the boat; my friend James began staying at the boatyard with DR and I, and he proved to be a hard worker.  Here he is scraping Sikaflex 291 out of the window frames... Sikaflex is a marine adhesive and sealant that stands up to pretty much anything.  There's a saying in the boating world: "That which Sikaflex and the Lord hath brought together, let no man tear asunder!".  Foul, foul stuff, nearly impossible to remove!

cockpit floor fully removed

The biggest part of any boat repair job is the removal of the old materials - at some point we discovered the new Dremel 'Multi-Max' tool, which proved to be a magic wand for these sorts of repairs.  In this photo you can see three of the four sections of cockpit floor removed; the fourth didn't show any signs of rot, so we left it in place.

Also in this photo you can see the beginnings of the centerboard repairs!  To my huge relief, the rot in the centerboard trunk was not very extensive, and we were able to cut out the rotted parts, soak the non-rotted exposed wood with propylene glycol to kill any remaining rot bacteria, soak it all in acetone to dry it out, brace the boards with fresh, sealed marine-grade plywood, and then finally fill the resulting gaps with epoxy thickened with powdered adhesive.  I am confident that the repairs are stronger than the original construction.

DR as a proud spaceman

Dan Ross completed the painting of the port ama, but with another upcoming heat wave staring us in the face, we decided that it would be better to have the boatyard labourer do the other ama.

cockpit floors installed and filletted

The cockpit floors went in smoothly, and sanding would soon begin!

James sanding the aft cabin

With a heatwave under way however we took any opportunity we could to work 'indoors' or underneath the boat... anything to stay out of the hot sun!  The days were so hot that by noon we wouldn't be able to think straight, and after a few near-misses involving power tools we decided that it would be best to try to take it a little easier during the hottest parts of the day.

rebuilt mast step

The former mast step had been completely destroyed by rot, so I manufactured a new one by laminating four layers of marine plywood together with epoxy and then fiberglassing the whole thing over.  I do not expect to ever have to replace this part again!

the redundant string of knots

While the mast was down I decided that it would be wise to replace all of the internal wiring as well, and so over the span of two days I dragged over 250 feet of new wiring through the length of the mast, using tarred sailing twine given to me by my friend Kym Rich.  This photo shows the knot used to secure the thick coaxial cable prior to dragging it through - if the knot were to let go, getting the cable through would have been a nightmare!  This knot was subsequently covered in duct tape, and the system worked perfectly.

Jen and Emerson removing chainplates

I had many visits from friends and family during this month.  I tried to take photos each time, but I often failed and/or forgot.  Here is my friend Emerson Tan and my baby sister Jen - five months pregnant in this photo - helping to remove chainplates.

centerboard faired and polished

The centerboard continued to be a project, one that could often be worked on during hot periods of the days, and so many hours of grinding and patching later it was nearly complete.  This photo shows the board cleaned and shining in the sun.

Chad Taylor sanding the starboard ama

Prior to painting, all of the former anti-skid paint had to be removed.  Anti-skid is paint that has a rough texture - often it's as simple as adding regular beach sand to the paint, but in the case of my boat it was a little more uniform.  Sanding the anti-skid proved to be incredibly time consuming, and using the angle grinder was delicate work that often caused scarring of the fiberglass underneath.  In a stroke of luck, we discovered that methyl-ethyl-ketone (MEK) solvent dissolved the antiskid paint, and after flailing for days with sanders and grinders, Chad Taylor and I took off all the antiskid in an afternoon with solvent and hand scrapers.

port ama stripped of all antiskid

This photo shows the stripped wings, ready for priming and painting.  Or at least we thought so, but as it turned out we had many days of sanding left before we could paint...

brightwork!

The hatches on Tie Fighter stand up about two inches off the deck, which is more than enough to catch on a wave coming over the decks.  A big enough wave could tear a hatch open, which could end pretty badly under rough conditions, and so each hatch has a pair of wedge-shaped blocks of teak to deflect those incoming waves.  I had gone to one of the boatyard shops looking to purchase a little block of teak for the top of the binnacle, and they offered to do all of my brightwork for not much more!  The block of teak I purchased - the square piece at the top of the photo - was $40 finished, but to have them refinish all of my teak was only another $20, so I jumped at the chance.

completed crossbrace

Another "tiny spot of rot" was at the top of a very important bulkhead in the forward cabin, where the stay for the staysail attached.  The former attachment hadn't been sealed well, and a leak had been patched over from the inside... which means that the leak itself wasn't repaired, just masked.  A large chunk of the bulkhead had to be removed, and the repairs had to be *strong* - this four-inch thick laminated plywood brace was the final answer.

crossbrace installed

The crossbrace was carefully sized and finally bolted into place with another twelve 1/4" bolts and lots of thickened epoxy.  This marked the end of the rot repair projects!

James sanding the aft hull

Now that the repairs were pretty much complete, the next stage began in ernest - sanding and fairing every square inch of the boat, in preparation for painting.  The sheer magnitude of this task was staggering - painting a large sailboat is a huge task, but painting a large trimaran is three times as much work!

Jesse sanding the port bow

Around this time, my friend Jesse came out to start helping with the boat repairs as well.  Jesse brought his experience working at an automotive body shop to the table, and his attention to detail made a huge difference in the final project.  At this point, each day I expected the boat to be finished "within a week", and each week I realized that it would be at least another week of hard labour before we'd be even close to finished.

the crew hard at work

The end of July found us still hard at it; I was beginning to lose my confidence, and my wallet was significantly lighter than I had expected it to be at this point, but I was still confident that the end was nearing and that I'd yet have a great summer sailing adventure.  At the very least, I'd have a few hot summer nights sitting at anchor in English Bay surrounded by friends, making music on the water, right...?  Little did I know there would still be another solid month of work before the boat would even be back in the water, and another two months after that before she would sail away under her own power...

27Oct/101

What I Did On My Summer Vacation – June Edition

It's been six months since I've updated my blog, and much has changed.  So much, in fact, that the sheer amount of things I have to write about has been preventing me from writing at all!  I've resigned myself to the fact that many of this summer's great adventure stories will have to remain untold, and that I will just have to tell the biggest story - and in the spirit of 'worth a thousand words', I think the story is best told as a series of photographs, with a descriptive paragraph for each.  There are eighty-six photographs in total, and that's after having culled and cut and edited out well over half of them.  Most of these photos are lower quality, all that remains from my iPhone's 'Facebook' application.

The short version: I planned to haul Tie Fighter out of the water for a two-week intensive repair and paintjob session, and those two weeks turned into a grueling sixty-five day slog, working ten or more hours per day in the hot sun with a total of five days off over more than two months.  Fortunately the weather cooperated, if you count blisteringly hot sun as cooperation...

Without further ado, I present to you "What I Did On My Summer Vacation", the June edition.  If you're reading this on Facebook, I strongly suggest you visit my main blog site (http://www.disengage.ca) for the original formatting.

Ernst at the helm

Ernst at the helm

Given the ongoing problems with my engine overheating, I figured it was probably prudent to enlist some help with the travel from Kitsilano up to the boatyard that I'd be working in, Shelter Island Marina in Richmond, BC.  They were chosen because they are the only boatyard in the lower mainland with a travelift capable of hauling out a boat the width of Tie Fighter!

towing Tie Fighter behind the Foulkeswagen

towing Tie Fighter behind the Foulkeswagen

My friend John Foulkes offered to give me a tow up the Fraser River with his powerboat, and so Ernst and I sailed Tie Fighter out around UBC and to the river mouth, then attached a line to John's boat (the Foulkeswagen) and headed up the river.  Aside from a near miss of the banks during a daring coffee-relay mission between the two vessels, the trip was peaceful and uneventful.

approaching the lift

approaching the lift

I spent the night on the Shelter Island docks, then in the morning I motored up to the lifting dock...

travelift lifting Tie Fighter out of the water

travelift lifting Tie Fighter out of the water

...where I was lifted up...

out of the water

out of the water

carrying Tie Fighter across the boatyard

carrying Tie Fighter across the boatyard

...carried across the boatyard...

washdown guy in hazmat suit

washdown guy in hazmat suit

...powerwashed, and...

Tie Fighter blocked and ready for work
Tie Fighter blocked and ready for work

...finally set down gently on metal stands, ready to be worked on.

At this point I honestly did think that I'd only be out for a total of two weeks, but everyone who asked about it laughed when I told them my schedule and predictions of how long it would take.  One guy, a fellow geek, actually recommended I take all my predictions regarding time and money to be spent, add a worst-case scenario, and then multiply it all by 'pi'.  Strangely his predictions were the most accurate of anyone.

stuck centerboard, meet physics

stuck centerboard, meet physics

The first task was to remove the centerboard, though of course it didn't want to come out.  At some point, some previous owner hit some rocks and damaged the fiberglass bottom edge of the board - the wooden centerboard absorbed seawater and swelled up, causing it to stick in the centerboard trunk.  Two days, a lot of rocking, some serious leverage provided by halyards and block-and-tackle, and a bottle of extra virgin olive oil later... she came out.

the centerboard, out on the ground

the centerboard finally out

Six hundred pounds of centerboard doesn't move around too easily!  Ugh, three different layers of anti-fouling paint, old fiberglass, wood fibers and several years of marine growth - this piece of wood was foul.  We drilled a bunch of drainage holes in the board and propped it up on wood blocks "for a few days".  Little did we know, it would be there for almost two months.

One of the first major projects was to repair a "tiny, little 6-inch spot of rot" in one of the port ama bulkheads.  Of course, we quickly learned that as soon as you can spot any rot, there's a lot more that you can't see... and the project turned into a bulkhead, support beams, an inside panel and several feet of decking!

DR tracing out a new bulkhead

My close friend Dan Ross spent a large portion of the summer out in the boatyard with me, helping to repair the boat.  His work ethic and good humour kept me both motivated and sane through the long, hot days on the asphalt.

DR fitting the replacement bulkhead
In the photo above you can also see the line locker, the open hatch on the right.  Originally this had been a locker for a life raft, accessable from below the wing should the boat ever capsize... but of course, the hatch wasn't installed well, and subsequently it rotted.  We removed the hatch and built up the locker as a proper watertight line locker, by replacing about fifteen square feet of the underside of the wing, then building a new floor into the locker over top of that.
port ama hatch rebuilt, awaiting fiberglass
Miya on the starboard bow

During this time I also had other friends visiting and helping quite often - here's a pic of my lovely girlfriend Miya working on the starboard bow.  At first we tried to remove the old anti-skid paint with sandpaper and then with an angle grinder, but the sheer amount of work to do so was staggering.  In the end, we found that methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) was the answer - the anti-skid paint dissolved under the solvent!

Miya, Teak and DR pulling up the mast

We also removed the mast and rigging, both so that I could inspect and upgrade the mast head equipment and so that we could get access to the centerboard trunk, the largest and most complicated rot problem of all...

the mast on the ground
lots of rot in the mast step!

Above you see the mast step, which essentially collapsed as soon as I applied a little pressure to it.  I'm very fortunate that it never collapsed on me while I was at sail, though I'm pretty sure that I would have had problems if I'd left this project for another year.

the rain cover built and installed

As the Canada Day weekend approached, bringing June to a close, the weather forecast showed a prediction of rain.  With a quick run to Home Depot for lumber and a tarp, we built a rain cover over the worksite - which had the side effect of giving us some much-needed shade on what would prove to be the hottest days of the summer.

And so ended the month of June.  I'll try to add the subsequent posts, with the photos from July and August in a timely fashion, but my world seems to be accelerating currently, so no promises. 🙂