Copyright (c) Marc Dacey/Dark Star Media unless otherwise indicated. Above photo (c) Marc Dacey. Powered by Blogger.

2019-07-17

Good grief, we are aboard!

Had to come down at dark o'clock to secure this on deck during a gale: Thus is boat life.
My apologies for the long delay in blogging, but boat jobs, moving jobs, the appalling need to downsize and a severe time crunch involved in all of the above have hampered my "free"time and, ironically as we are supposed to be in semi-retirement, I have never worked so hard in my life, and I suspect Mrs. Alchemy would concur.
Replaced the fridge compressor. It's doing well.
Rather than list my domestic horrors trying to ship half of our possessions into storage and realizing the remainer equalled three boats' worth of stowage, I will simply list the jobs done, approached or best avoided.
Hatch strut for forepeak. Stayed up in 25 knots.

 Some jobs have manifested on the basis of deliveries or even weather. In the inevitably severe "culling of the gear", a few items were obviously and quickly done, like putting handholds in tricksy spots.
Needs further protection, obviously.

 Other jobs relied on outside contractor enthusiasm. These welded-on SS bars make the three-inch bollard horns four inches...a small but real improvement suggested by Mrs. Alchemy.
"Barlow's Bollard Extenders"
Other mods/additions were literally a decade in coming. I acquired these Lewmar 44 winches in 2009 or so. They required very precise measuring to get them in place where they would a) not interfere with each other and b) could be effectively bolted onto the deck. They are the new primaries, with the Andersen 40s relegated to staysail heavy weather sheeting and/or drogue retrieval. I spoke to Angue of Ocean Brake who suggested their switch to all-Dyneema leader in the fall means I should defer a drogue purchase to the winter.
Brought to you by trig and ADD.
Biggest winch handle versus working clearance.
It's down a bit, but not more than six inches. There's a shallow beach on the seawall beneath the waves.
 Meanwhile, flooding proceeded apace.
He's usefully taller now, about three cm. shorter than me, which makes him able to reach pretty well everything aboard.
 Cabin Boy completed his secondary school education.
Water tank frames completed.
The water tanks were measured, ordered and prepared for.

Huge pain in the ass, this job, but necessary.
The pilothouse roof was hoisted, strips of electrically isolating HDPE were secured between the mild steel flange and the alu roof, butyl and sealant and bolts restored and rubber leak-stop was sprayed.
Bonus: It holds the hatch open for brief, calm-wather egress.
The Lofrans Tigres windlass was installed. Still facing some wiring issues and a hard short to find, however. If it wasn't raining today, I'd have it apart on deck today instead of blogging about it!

Bit of a saga choosing 2 ga. wiring.
 

Every journey needs a map, right? Most of the jobs I do are first-time for me. The windlass is more like rewiring a starter motor, so not completely weird or novel.
So many holes in the steel deck makes me nervous....
The job took a couple of days and a couple of hole saws. I've gotten pretty efficient at putting holes, however, in steel decking, by necessity.

HDPE standoffs insulate the windlass body from the steel deck, as recommended by the Italiate instructions.
Looks good, but I have to trace a short.
Other ridiculously varied tasks followed. We had a custom table support made for the saloon. It lowers so that the table forms a bed platform if one is not overly enthusiastic.
 Windshield wiper finally found. I had to fab the link in the shop...
And wire it up...later...
We had to get out of our rental apartment by June 30. June 27, a truck with three burly Bellevillians showed up and hauled our "stuff" to the Trenton rental property. Said stuff filled a basement bedroom and about 60% of two sheds. We should have, in retrospect, given away even more, because too much crap came aboard and we are still culling, although the sole is visible in places now and other club members are benefitting from our compelled largess.
So many...heirlooms?

Mrs. Alchemy questions the logic of materialism.
The older, wooden, more tool-orientated shed features limited electricity.

Books, beds and toaster ovens?
That Pelican cooler is great, but too big for the voyage. We brought the beat-up Koolatron as an auxiliary fridge.
Behold the spare main...at least it's not stuffed into the forepeak.
 Once again, despite having significantly reduced our belongings last year, we gave away/Freecycled/curbed a vast amount of surplus things. Apparently, one is richer than one thinks!
The ubiquitous "Billy" bookshelves. Six of these were successfully curbed in the alleyway.
Well, that's nice.
We got aboard, although it nearly broke Mrs. Alchemy and made us uncordial at points, and started to experience life aboard. But more was to come...
Another case of loads of measuring and planning and interior alterations to get this, pun intended, in gear.
 Behold the second, "outside helm" throttle shifter. This allows us to correct a real shortcoming of Alchemy and to operate the engine from beyond the pilothouse.
I did not know one could purchase a 2 3/8" hole saw a close match for an Italian spec. Now I do.
 

Took some adjustments, but it works as advertised and we've practised docking with it. A fine mod.
Mast, moon and mainsail.
The "sundowner" has become a fixture of the day, but so have very early nights (2130-2200h) and rising with the dawn. Mainly due to exhaustion. 

Wait until you see the plumbing this requires...oy!
There's doings on the autopilot front, but I will save that for a later post. Needless to say, it's deferred our departure (again) and I'm doing it myself.

Foot plus switch.
Yes, that's a fused negative. Buy me a pint and I'll tell you why.
Further progress on the windlass. Nearly there...

This seemed a reasonable spot, semi-protected yet near the end of the vessel.
Lastly, or rather, lately, as in yesterday, I mounted the EPIRB, the emergency beacon designed to alert search and rescue folk we've got trouble aboard, or no board at all.
Goes off both in water or if buttons are pushed.

Belt, meet suspenders.
May we never, as with the liftraft, need it.







2019-05-27

A flood of infinite labour vs. finite time




The above shots show the progression of the rising waters at our club between May 6 and May 14 this year. It's a rerun of the destructive flooding of 2017, and while our club, by virtue of having floating and not fixed docks, and the building itself built on a low podium of sorts, is in less trouble than many other lakeside operations, things remain tense.
The bridge over excess waters.
While our previous experience has given us as a club some expertise, even a mild breeze from the wrong direction can send waves against the lawns and brickwork, much of which is now sporting algae and waterfowl and even small fish.
Why, yes, this has made getting masts in problematic.
Trouble is, there's no evidence that this will stop soon. At its exit to the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario's outflow is controlled by a series of dams, but there's a hard limit to how much water can be sent downstream to Montreal, which has had arguably worse flooding this year. So the rest of the Great Lakes in a very wet winter and spring continue to gush, via Niagara Falls, in our general direction.

Trenton shed number 2: Oh, this was annoying.
Meanwhile, work proceeds on the time-honoured labour principle of "you can sleep when you die". The newer of the two sheds in Trenton was, at some cost to temper and knees, completed by my father-in-law and myself despite some clear issues at the plastic shed plant. Never again. Wood and planks for me, or steel. Yeah, steel's the ticket.
I don't even know what will go into this yet. But something will
The new tenants are working out fine, despite their discovery of some house-flipper mischief that dogged their enjoyment regarding certain plumbing and electrical half-assery. So bills have been paid.
Main post lazyjackings.
 The mainsail is on, and the lazyjacks (including a bosun's chair rereeving by Mrs. Alchemy) are lazyjacking. From a distance, Alchemy's starting to look functional.
Those empty slips are now occupied.
 Beneath decks, improvements continue. The new hydraulic lines are installed (autopilot to come) and "anti-chafe" applied.
There's not the rub.
In the same vicinity, I chopped the floor in half and added handles to make the "aft bilge" accessible. It's not a huge space, but it's dry and awkward objects, such as the storm shutters, can nestle there comfortably.
That's the propshaft log down there.
The anchor's on again. Yes, I need to "borrow" the swim deck of the powerboat ahead of us to safely do this job.
The rustier chain is to the Fortress "lunch hook"; the main anchor chain is partially in the lashed black bucket.
Add caption
The arrival of the monster Loos Gauge permitted a provisional tuning of the rig.

We hired three labourers at short notice to help us hump this thing into place. Never have I paid cash so happily.
One of my tenants is a contractor and very kindly drove our ridiculously heavy boat cradle off the club property and to the somewhat damp Trenton backyard "depot".
Padeye through-bolted for preventering.
Meanwhile, back aboard, some long-standing safety matters were in play. We've never had reefing or preventers rigged on Alchemy, but that's changing. The reefing's pretty straightforward: we're going with two-line "slab" reefing for simplicity and because it's easy to work at the mast for us. Another advantage is that dacron-covered Spectra/Dyneema line means less weight aloft with no loss of strength. String theory in action.

The padeye above is the terminus of the Spectra-core line that goes on starboard side about the length of the boom and which is secured on a horn cleat near the gooseneck by a loop of shock cord. Running from the cockpit to beefy blocks either side of the bow and then outside of the forward shrouds are two 1/2" Dacron lines, which are stretchier than the Spectra-core. Tying or shackling the boom line to the bow line and cleating off means that downwind work is made safer (and easier on the rig) by "preventing" crash gybes. We are still considering a boom brake, but our mainsheet tackle, at 6:1, is already good at controlled trimming, so we'll review later on.
I call it "Frasier".
The stern was adorned with the remounting (after the SS base finally turned up) of the deck crane, which is used to bring aboard dinghy motors and provisions of unusual size, delivered by tender.
Stairway to heaven.
I "fabricated" (using a length of wood, a shop vise and main force) a third tabernacle step for Mrs. Alchemy to be able to reach the top of the mainsail cover, the mainsail halyard shackle and other areas a little too out of reach for a 160 cm. skipper. Don't let the size fool you: that little tab can take my weight. The angle is on purpose...it just needed a quick filing of the edges.
Lexan, stainless steel: two things tricksy to drill.
A salvaged sheet of 3/8" Lexan shall serve as storm shutter material for the aft cabin portlights and the pilothouse windows forward. We really don't need them elsewhere.
Shifty, if you ask me.
A long-time ambition to have an outside throttle-shifter is about to be realized this week as the existing Morse cables to the engine will be paired with two more similar to special Teleflex fittings which allow either the aft deck throttle-shifter or the pilothouse shifter, assuming both are left in neutral, to operate the diesel. This avoids having to purchase "yokes" for 2 into 1-style cabling, which saves money for us and reduces complexity inside the boat.
I like to keep the engine clean, it's a clean machine.
Measuring up the preventer geometry, I found the existing mainsheet was too short to allow the boom to get fully "over" in order to be preventered. So I sewed a second line onto the first to see how much more I'd need. Turns out 25 more feet was the answer. Remember, at 6:1, that gives me only four more feet or so extra swing. I took the opportunity to reduce the mainsheet diameter from 1/2 inch, which was binding a bit when wet, to 7/16": the loss in ultimate breaking strength was tiny in such an otherwise robust setup, and while my hands prefer 1/2" (which are the diameters of the halyards and sheets), this is easier to coil down in such a long length.
Full and by.
We had the Dacron cover of our spare halyard fray off for a number of feet: turns out that some of the necessary clearances of our busy halyard configuration allowed some chafing to occur. I (again) sewed a new line onto the old and rove it fairly easily over the sheave. The former halyard will become spare docklines of unusual strength once the cover is lashed back into place and whipped.
This is less confusing than it looks.
Lastly, our old Easyblock double block, used for the portside combo leading aft of the port jib sheet and the furling line, was taken off active duty in favour of the HARKEN DOUBLE BLOCK, in all caps because of its expense and terrifyingly competent appearance.
Block apps.
 Meanwhile, it's getting Biblical out there.
Yesterday (May26, 2019) on the access road to the club.
The storm drains are reversing and lake water is creeping onto the road. We've heard rumours, which Mrs. Alchemy wisely discounts, but still...that the massive current in the St. Lawrence seaway system may complicate locking down this summer, as is our intention. So we will keep out the customary weather eye. I'm glad I pushed the masting as fast as I could at the beginning of May. Seemed prescient.