May 23-June 4, 2017: And the work just keeps on coming

Week four (two thousand and four?) on the hard, and the jobs are slowly getting whittled away.  We’re down from four pages to two pages, but unfortunately the things that are left are either really massive, really complicated, really time-consuming, really backbreaking, or some combination of the above.

The last couple of weeks has felt like two steps forward, one step back, but we’re bouncing back (and even with that math, we’re still a step ahead).  Our FoodSaver vacuum sealer went belly-up in the middle of packaging a party-sized Stouffer’s lasagna for the freezer, so we had to replace it.  We use the vacuum sealer not just for food but also for medications, supplies, and boat parts, and it is not an optional piece of equipment for us.  Shortly thereafter, the Captain’s Fein oscillating tool died.  He uses it for tons of jobs around the boat, so we replaced it as well.  Amazon came to the rescue for both items.

We had quite a bit of trouble disassembling the windlass for servicing.  We ended up having to use yard mechanics (or, more accurately, mechanics and their specialized tools) to convince some of the parts to finally separate.  The Captain reports that the windlass hadn’t been recently serviced, if it had ever been serviced, and it showed.  We cleaned all of the parts, and the Captain removed rust from the windlass motor and repainted it.  We ended up having to order some replacement parts from Imtra, so the windlass servicing has been on hold while we wait for those parts to arrive.  Imtra was great to work with and was super helpful.

Our new prop, shaft, and stuffing box are here and ready to be installed.  We have been waiting for the skeg and stern tube to be fabricated by Island Packet, and they told us it would take two weeks.  Then we found out last week that Island Packet had to order a special tube from another state, so the turnaround grew by another two weeks.  Sigh. It wouldn’t be a big deal except that all of these projects impact each other and therefore have an order.  This threw off our whole game plan, and the Captain, as Project Manager, is tearing his hair out trying to reorder the projects.

Job one was to start doing the projects that we were going to do after the drive train repairs; there is no sense waiting on those.  We’re hoping to get back in the water ASAP after the drive train installations are completed.  The Captain repaired small cracks and dings in the hull and deck with gel coat and/or epoxy.  We sanded the gel coat repairs with 220, 400, 600, 800, 1000, and 1200 grit sandpaper, and they look great.

The Captain also rebuilt the area under our dolphin striker with epoxy.  This area takes abuse from our mooring lines and needed some TLC.  Now it’s stronger than new.

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I finally finished polishing all of the exterior stainless, a job that I horribly underestimated.  Never again will I think that it can be done in a day! I went through an entire bottle of Collinite Metal Polish and at least half a bottle of Spotless Stainless.

We need to repaint our boot stripe, which is the stripe of paint that divides the bottom paint from the gel coat; it is positioned a few inches above the waterline.  There were at least two coats of paint on our existing boot stripe, and the top one was starting to flake.  So the Captain used the random orbital sander to sand the boot stripe down with 180 and 220 grit sandpaper.  We finished it with hand sanding, and now it’s ready for repainting once we finish some other tasks.

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The Captain started off sanding the boot stripe with the (new) Fein tool but soon went to the random orbital sander.  We’ve both got such work-roughened hands that the fingerprint reader on our phone won’t reliably recognize us.  I believe that is the very definition of “first world problems.”

While still crippled from sanding the boot stripe the day before, the Captain undertook the horrible job of sanding areas on the hull bottom.  There are two types of antifouling paint used on boat bottoms, ablative and hard.  Ablative is very soft and is made to slough off along with any attached growth; hard is just that—really hard with additives that make the paint “taste” nasty to growth, thus preventing it.  We have the hard paint, and it is very resistant to sanding.  The Captain had to wear a Tyvek suit while sanding in the 90-something degree heat and while holding the random orbital sander at shoulder height, pressing hard to remove the paint.  Talk about torture.

I’ve started teakapalooza.  I detached the swim ladder from the boat; it is made of stainless steel tubing with teak steps.  I removed the teak steps and stripped the ancient Cetol from them using Citristrip.  I am in the process of refinishing them with three coats of Cetol Marine Natural Teak and two coats of Cetol Marine Gloss.  I’ve also started the same process with our three hatch boards.

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Here I am painting Citristrip onto our ladder steps to strip off a hundred years’ worth of built-up Cetol.

After much discussion of pros and cons, we have decided to change our finishing technique on the caprail.  For years we have been using Semco, but we have both been pretty disappointed in its longevity and durability.  We decided to go back to Cetol, so I scrubbed all of the Semco off of the caprail with Simple Green and 3M green scrub pads.  I will begin finishing the caprail with Cetol once we do some polishing and waxing of the hull.  I found my cheapie knee pads in storage, and that made my day of scrubbing a lot better.

I was thrilled to see that we only had six small spots on the handrails and four small spots on the eyebrows that need some Cetol touch ups.  That’s pretty amazing given how much abuse that wood takes, how many things are tied or strapped to the handrail, and how many times something like the boathook (or my knees and ankles) has banged against them.

We lubricated all of our through-hulls with Mare Lube and Boeshield T-9.  Keeping the action smooth and fluid makes them easier to operate and also may prevent them from leaking or freezing.  Definitely a plus since they are all beneath the waterline.

We replaced our existing Kyocera 135 solar panel with a Kyocera 150 solar panel that we ordered from Northern Arizona Wind and Sun (great company, by the way—excellent customer service and technical support).  The solar panel is mounted on a frame that is mounted on our davits.  Because the boat is 30 feet in the air, we decided to play it safe and pay the yard to help us get the old panel down and the new panel up rather than try to wrestle them down and up two tall ladders.  That had disaster written all over it.

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Driving the man-lift over to Kestrel to begin lowering the old solar panel.

Yard staff used a man lift to quickly and easily get us up to the panel to remove it.  Once the old panel was down, the Captain mounted the new panel on the existing frame and then bench tested the new panel to make sure that it was working properly.  We then used the man lift again to get the new panel up and installed.

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The Captain attaching the new solar panel, with frame, to our davits while on the man-lift.

We did take one day off on Memorial Day.  We went to Jacksonville to go shopping at big stores like Lowes and Home Depot.  We also had Mexican food and got an entire dozen donuts at Krispy Kreme, many of which we ate in the car on the way back.  Screw the doctor, we earned it.

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This is our Haul Survival Kit.  We consume copious quantities of all, sometimes with relish and sometimes with desperation.

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